Branson programs offer help to unemployed workers in the off-season

It's the off-season in Branson. That means, many people are out of work in the tourist town.

"They lay-off people because the tourism season comes to a screeching halt almost," Barbara Morrison said.

This time of year, unemployment in Branson jumps from less than two percent to about 15 percent.

"Yeah, they'll be laid-off for probably about three months," Larry Sweeney said.

However, there is help available.

The Salvation Army partners with the local churches and organizations to feed families twice a week through January and February.

"We fight as an organization to be the hands and feet of Jesus," Kids Across America Director John Scott IV said.

"It helps them stretch their food dollars. It helps them stretch what unemployment they're getting," Branson Salvation Army Captain Linda McCormick said.

The meals help them get through until spring, in more ways than one.

"Moral support, that others are facing the same things," Sweeney said.

However, it's not only short term help that's available.

"We are going to teach you and give you the tools you need to stand out above all the other employees. Maybe next year you'll be the employee that doesn't get laid-off," Jobs for Life Director Ashley Harkness said.

Jobs for Life is a program through Jesus was Homeless. It's nine weeks of hands-on job-skills training.

"Those common sense things that maybe they've never been taught, I think we can change our workforce," Harkness said.

Participants want to be a part of that change.

"How to handle an interview and how to dress," Morrison said.

Many are hoping to succeed even in the off season for years to come.

"They soar. They rock it. It's the biggest, most beautiful launch pad they've ever had in their life," Harkness said.

If you'd like to be a part of Jobs for Life, there are new courses starting in February and March.

Weekly free meals take place at Branson First Baptist on Mondays and Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church on Wednesdays. Dinner is served from 5:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. both nights.