ANCHORAGE -

The year proved challenging for local charity groups, which had mixed results when attempting to meet increasing needs for help.

Lisa Sauder, executive director of Bean's Cafe, said donations increased in 2013.

That is a positive sign that more people were giving, but at the same time, more people turned to the nonprofit for help.

"We're seeing a huge increase in the number of children that are at risk of not having enough to eat," Sauder said.

Sauder said they have seen more people utilize a program called The Children's Lunchbox that provides kids healthy access to healthy foods.

Vicki Martin, program volunteer director for the Downtown Soup Kitchen, said she worked for the nonprofit organization since 2005.

Every day she sees more new faces.

"We don't know why our numbers are growing," Martin said. "We just noticed more of the working poor and it's amazing."

DeAnna Roering, marketing director for the Salvation Army, said donations were slow this year for the Salvation Army's Red Kettle campaign. But donations are slowly picking up as the year draws to a close.

"We're actually five days shorter with the late Thanksgiving, so we're looking to have a deficit of about $90,000," Roering said. "We're hoping to get at least $600,000 by the time the campaign is over."

Roering said the need for donations has grown.

"We're starting to see more people utilize the different food pantries and more people who use the different services," Roering said.

Answers to the growing problem are not simple.

"I think it's a reflection of the economy first and foremost," Roering said. "I think we can really look at that statewide and see that that's one of the bigger issues."