By Samantha Joseph
MARTIN COUNTY - On Nov. 16 about 100 guests will sit down for a hot Thanksgiving meal, courtesy of the Salvation Army of Martin County.
For many of the guests, this will be their only opportunity for a traditional meal that holiday.
In recent years, nonprofits across the county have reported sharp growth in their client rosters as area families struggle in a tight economy.
And with the holidays approaching, officials said local groups want to provide meals for some of the hardest-hit residents.
"The majority are homeless or low-income people," said Judith C. Jones, public relations and volunteer coordinator for the Martin County arm of the Salvation Army, an international Christian organization.
The dinner is set for between 5 and 6 p.m. at the local group's Stuart offices, 821 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. No reservations are required.
"It's open to anyone who wants a hot Thanksgiving meal," Ms. Jones said.
House of Hope, a local nonprofit working to empower people to overcome hardship and hunger in Martin County, is also doing its part to ensure clients have Thanksgiving meals.
Through its annual holiday program, the group gives hundreds of qualifying clients free turkeys and gift cards for area grocery stores.
Last year, the program distributed cards to 250 households during Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
The cards had an average value of $25, and clients got them in addition to free food and other services from the organization.
"About 100 families might come at Thanksgiving time and get additional assistance," said Diane Tomasik, House of Hope's communications director.