Needy going online to ask for holiday help

With joblessness in the state at a 25-year high and the needy standing in line for aid, some are making direct pleas for help online instead.

In recent weeks, dozens of people have posted requests for help on the Raleigh edition of Craigslist, the Web site that offers free classified ads. As Christmas approaches, many posts have taken a desperate tone, asking for used children's clothing, shoes or toys, holiday decorations, even food and rent money.

Thousands of nonprofit agencies across the state are dedicated to easing the suffering of the poor, but Craigslist is a place where people can ask directly for immediate help and connect with sympathetic individuals, not bureaucracies. Especially during the holidays, it's a high-tech tug on the heartstrings.

"I need some help really badly. My family and I have hit some really hard times and are unable to pay our rent for this month," read a post Dec. 5 from Zebulon with the subject line, WE NEED A MIRACLE. "The amount is 350.00. I don't know what we are going to do. We honestly just do not have the money. This is not a scam, I am being as real as I possibly can be. We need help. Can someone help us please!!"

Four days earlier, a woman wrote: "My husband and I are looking for children's items for a newborn boy and a 7-year-old girl. We are really having a hard time right now, though I know everyone is. ...

"We moved to Raleigh and have had a string of bad luck and are trying to put something together for Christmas."

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