Anita Mosley wasn’t sure Christmas morning would bring the holiday glint to her 4-year-old granddaughter’s eyes.
“I figured we’d wake up that morning, and she may not have anything because it’s really been a struggle for us this year,” said Mosley, a Macon resident. “When they called me, it was really like a prayer answered.”
The phone call came from Kids Yule Love, one of several Middle Georgia organizations preparing toys for families in need just days before Christmas.
More Middle Georgia families are reaching out for assistance this holiday season than in years past, and providers are stretching to fill the needs of thousands of midstate residents.
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“The need is up,” said Peggy Steele, development director for the Central Georgia Salvation Army. “It’s very hard to provide for all of the people who need help this year.”
The harsh economic times have pushed new families to seek help, while fewer people are able to donate and the cost for organizations to provide food and other services has increased.
“People are giving what they can, but there is a big difference,” Steele said, adding that the Salvation Army will help more than 2,300 people this season by the time the donations it collects are concluded Friday. “We’re having to stretch every dollar, make every penny count.”
More is still needed. The Salvation Army could use monetary donations to help families with utilities and rent costs, which Steele said is needed throughout the year. They are also trying to top off the last bunch of Christmas dinners.
“We’ve got more families to give boxes of food to than we have turkeys,” Steele said. “We can always use food.”
In order to handle increasing requests for assistance, Kids Yule Love lowered the age limit for recipients this year, accepting gifts for children only 12 years old or younger.
“With the economy, it’s so hard,” said Diane Allen, of Kids Yule Love. “People just don’t give for the teenagers, and of course teenagers want electronics. They want what other teenagers have.”
Despite the change in age limit, Allen said it has been especially busy for her organization as well. She was gathering gifts Thursday to distribute to 50 Houston County families needing emergency assistance. The last-minute request came on top of the more than 2,100 children across Middle Georgia for which Kids Yule Love had already gathered gifts. There were about 800 in Bibb County alone, with more than 360 in Monroe County, 330 in Houston, 200 in Peach, 200 in Baldwin and 100 in Jones.
“It’s been really busy,” Allen said.
Her husband, Bibb County Commissioner and Kids Yule Love founder Joe Allen, was also delivering gifts Thursday. One of his stops was Mosley’s home, where several toys were donated for 4-year-old Soraya Carswell.
Mosley snuck into the next room Thursday to reveal one of the leading gifts -- a new bike. It’s purple, Carswell’s favorite color.
“She’s going to love it,” the grandmother said. “It means a lot to me.”
To contact writer Caryn Grant, call 256-9751.