The number of people provided with basic assistance, mainly food, in Spain by Caritas exceeded 1 million in 2011, of whom a third came to that non-governmental organization seeking help for the first time in their lives.

Those are some of the figures presented in the latest report by Caritas' Social Reality Observatory, which will be published shortly and in which another noteworthy fact is that 44 percent of the people who were helped have been asking for help from this institution linked with the Catholic Church for three or more years, on average.

Over the past four years, the number of people who have turned to Caritas to ask for basic help - food and housing - has increased substantially, from 370,251 in 2007 to 1,001,761 in 2011, the organization said.

Most of the people who were given aid, Caritas said, live alone, are young couples with children or single-parent families.

Among the people who were helped was also a very large percentage contingent of young adults between the ages of 30-44, both Spaniards and undocumented immigrants who are at risk of losing their homes, people without any income or with basic or minimal incomes.

Caritas also detected a considerable increase in the number of people out of work who lack unemployment benefits.

With regard to the type of aid requested, the report emphasizes that this continues to be - in this order - food, housing and employment, which are the areas to which most of the economic resources are directed, again in that order.

In a communique released to commemorate the Day of Charity this Sunday, Caritas warned that the "accumulation of disadvantages" among more than a quarter of the Spanish population "carries with it the real risk of dualization and the lack of social cohesion."

Thus, the organization emphasized that the growth of poverty is concentrated particularly in homes with young providers and children, and it denounced "the withdrawal of the systems of social protection or the weakening of the mechanisms of family protection."

For the celebration of the Day of Charity, Caritas has organized a campaign under the slogan "Live simply so that others may simply live. The best presents are made with the hands."

The organization has asked the government "to fight with all its means to end poverty and exclusion and not to cut social spending, but to increase it to alleviate the effects of this crisis among the most vulnerable."

Caritas also has invited the public to have "the true conviction" of helping improve the lives of thousands of people. EFE