News 12 This Morning / Thursday, October 7, 2010
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The Salvation Army is expecting nearly 3,000 children to be in need during the holidays this year, and they are already organizing their Christmas assistance program. They're accepting applications Thursday and Friday this week for moms and dads who need help with providing Christmas presents for children.
The goal is to provide gifts for thousands of local kids who are in need or homeless so parents can have a little peace of mind during the holiday budget crunch.
Lines are already out the door of their warehouse on Essie McIntyre Blvd.- families hoping for a little extra help during the holiday season.
"Every child who signs up with the Salvation Army will receive toys." Captain Wilma Mason says the local Salvation Army has been supporting Christmas drives for more than twenty years. Last year they served about 2,500 children. This year they're expecting as many as 3,000 children to to be on the list for holiday cheer.
"We're having some folks come to us for the very first time ever, signing up at the Salvation Army. I actually had a dear lady come yesterday who hadn't been here in over twenty years to sign up for her own child, and now she had to come back this year to sign up for her grandchildren who she has custody of. Times are hard for everyone."
Mason explains parents who need the Christmas assistance can sign up and list their child's gift request. The wish-list is then printed on a paper ornament and hung from Christmas "Angel Trees" in businesses and churches around the community. People then choose names off the Angel trees and volunteer to buy presents for the children.
Mason says she is not worried about meeting the extra needs this year. "God has always provided. Communities are always moved to give and we just rely upon the kindness of the community."
Moms and dads then pick up their kids' gifts during the week of Christmas. The children never know who the real angels are behind the holiday magic. Mason says, "You are being Santa for someone else, and the Christmas spirit."
Some of the most needed items: Hygiene products for teenagers, warm clothes like scarves and mittens for all ages, and, of course, toys for the younger boys and girls.
Mason says her team of local volunteer elves will work tirelessly in their makeshift Santa's workshop now through Christmas day to give the gift of the holiday spirit to everyone in need. She explains several different groups including the Salvation Army have teamed up to create a database for holiday projects through the United Way. Then families who sign up for one assistance program don't need to do so at another one, too. Mason says this will ensure the donors' gifts and dollars are spread out to the maximum number of different families.