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Holiday Help For Families Affected By Loss Of Unemployment Benefits

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By Steve Patterson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)—It looks like Christmas came early for the Hamilton family this year.

“Normally I feel a little down this time of the year. I’m working through that.”

But mom Caroline says it’s right in the nick of the time.

“I’ve been going through a lot of hard times.”

Without action from Congress, action that isn’t expected, Hamilton will join nearly 200,000 people in the Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey who are about to lose special unemployment benefits that will shrink from 63 weeks of coverage to 26.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics says it’s more than 3,500 people in Delaware, 70,000 in Pennsylvania and 90,000 in New Jersey, numbers that will grow in first six months of 2014.

Some of those people affected were visited today in South Philly for “Operation Holiday Help,” where community groups spend Christmas Eve dropping off gifts to needy families and Mayor Nutter even offered a hand.

“Unfortunately, many of the Republicans are trying to stop people from getting unemployment benefits.”

Several congressmen say the emergency benefits, enacted in 2008 during the height of the recession, have lasted too long and are hurting the job market.

The Mayor showed a rare display of anger at that notion and called for action.

“I think that’s a disgrace, especially at this time of year, where is your heart? Where is your moral compass to not vote to let people have unemployment benefits when clearly people need it.”

And Caroline says with four kids at Christmas, knowing those benefits were going away, meant little under the tree.

Thankfully, because of a generous few in South Philly, Christmas is still right on time.

“I’m trying not to cry. It’s such a blessing. It’s beautiful.”

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