Register staff report
While the Christmas season is mostly a season of happy gatherings of family and friends, for many the holiday spirit can be crushed by the harsh realities of simply making ends meet.
This holiday season, the Salvation Army in Madison County will bring hope to hundreds of local families who desperately need a helping hand, said Capt. Mark Love, who heads the organization with his wife, Capt. Sally Love.
Families may begin qualifying for the Salvation Army’s Christmas-season program beginning Thursday, Oct. 22 at 10 a.m., he said. The programs includes gifts and Christmas stockings for children, plus a family food basket for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
“The Salvation Army Angel Tree is the highlight of our Christmas assistance program,” Capt. Sally Love said.
Christmas gifts for children through age 12 that include toys and clothing are made possible by donors who choose to be a “Christmas Angel.”
Angel Trees with paper angels, each representing a deserving child, will go up in the Richmond and Berea Walmart stores as well as JCPenney in early November. Angels can also be selected at The Salvation Army office.
Applicants for the Salvation Army’s Christmas program should bring the following to the organization’s office, 1675 E. Main St., Richmond:
· Photo ID, such as a driver’s license.
· Government issued identification for all household members.
· A current food stamp eligibility letter or proof of all household income and expenses.
· Children’s clothing sizes.
Traditionally, The Salvation Army’s bell ringers in Madison County help generate significant support for programs at their red kettles. Local donations are down due to the economy. Home foreclosures are unprecedented, unemployment is still a major problem, and prices for essentials are rising. All this contributes to an increase in families seeking help from the Army during the Christmas season – and an increase in the cost of providing help.
“In this period of economic uncertainty, we have seen a 30-percent increase in requests for assistance,” Mark Love said. “But we need to care for our neighbors right here in Madison County who face a most difficult Christmas season, struggling even to meet their most basic necessities. I’m confident our faithful friends and those new supporters who see the need will share generously and won’t let them down.”
The Salvation Army will continue its dedication of doing the most good not only during the holiday season, but year round, he said.
“Although our visibility is more heightened during the holidays, it is important for the community to know that our Army’s programs are ongoing. We don’t just hand out a blanket and a cup of coffee to a needy person. We want to give them a hand up – to get them back on their feet and into a productive and fulfilling role in life. We’ll help them regain their hope and purpose by sharing the good news of God’s love and offering support in any way we can.”
For more details or to volunteer, call The Salvation Army at 624-5826 or go to www.salvationarmyrichmondky.org.