Charities that help families across Middle Georgia at Christmas say there’s an increased need for donations this year.
At the Salvation Army of Central Georgia, 342 households in Bibb County met the application deadline for assistance this year. A total of 924 children ages 12 and younger live in those households, said Connie Plunkett, a receptionist in the charity’s social service department.
“We actually are up from last year,” she said. “Last year there were only 775 children.”
The charity Kids Yule Love also has seen an increase in need, particularly in Houston and Bibb counties, said its founder, Joe Allen.
“We’ve had to stop sign-ups due to the fact that we’ve had more people wanting help and I didn’t have enough toys,” Allen said. “If the toys come in after Thanksgiving or around Dec. 1, I’ll open up sign-ups again.”
In fact, the number of applicants requesting help with Christmas gifts has increased steadily over the past several years, which is probably attributable to economic hardships. Though he didn’t have exact numbers, Allen said the total need requested in the nonprofit’s 14-county area is at a high this year.
Though most deadlines have already passed in Middle Georgia, Michelle Mari, a director for Kids Yule Love, said families in Peach County have until the end of the month to sign up for assistance.
Kids Yule Love, Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army swap families annually so they are served by a different organization every year.
“I’ve got their people and they’ve got mine this year,” Allen said.
Though the providing organizations change, the favorite gifts remain the same.
Kids Yule Love and the Salvation Army both say bicycles are in high demand.
“A lot of kids want ... those PlayStation games,” Plunkett said. “Some people have asked for tablets, but I would say bicycles are the main thing people ask for.”
Whether it’s a bike, a game or a soccer ball, all 2,000 Middle Georgians served by the Salvation Army will have their holiday wishes represented on angel ornaments that will decorate the Angel Tree at The Shoppes at River Crossing this month. Local businesses also will adopt a portion of the angels.
Plunkett said she expects more angels will be added to the tree as it gets closer to the holidays.
“We’re not completely through because we’ll still add people as they (call after) emergencies -- if they recently lost their job or if they had a house fire or their house was broken into,” Plunkett said.
Salvation Army Maj. Mary Holmes said the red kettles will make their first appearance for the season Nov. 28. About 300 volunteer bell-ringers will be out collecting at all the usual places, including Kroger stores, Bass Pro Shops, Wal-Mart on Harrison and Zebulon roads and Dillard’s.
“We’ve had several people volunteer to sign up (to ring bells),” Holmes said. “We’re calling all of our list from last year and hoping we’ll get some more responses about coming out.”
This year’s goal is $150,000. Money raised is pumped right back into Macon and is used to fund the Salvation Army’s emergency shelters, family and social services, rental assistance, youth character-building programs and more services offered.
For more information, including a comprehensive list of drop-off locations, visit: www.kidsyulelove.com and www.salvationarmygeorgia.org/central/.
To contact writer Laura Corley, call 744-4382.