The Salvation Army's Cartersville Corps currently is signing up people for either its Angel Tree program or the Cartersville-based Toys for Tots effort. Due to the economic downturn, the nonprofit's staff anticipates the number of recipients may exceed that of last year's 1,327 children.
"Obviously with the economy that we're in right now, unfortunately so many more people are either unemployed or underemployed," said Jane Nations, operations manager for the local Salvation Army. "A lot of them that I've talked to were expecting by now for it to turn around but it really hasn't for them. Maybe for other people, but for the ones that I've been talking to it really hasn't turned around so they are still going to need this assistance.
"A lot of times they will tell us that if it wasn't for programs like [our] Angel Tree or working with Toys for Tots that they wouldn't be able to [have] anything at Christmastime. That will really open your eyes to the need out there when you've got a mother or a father telling you that in all sincerity that without these programs they just didn't know where they were going to turn."
Parents and legal guardians can apply for assistance at The Salvation Army's office at 16 Felton Place today through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. They need to provide a photo ID, utility bill to verify address, and a Social Security card or Medicaid cards for every household member.
Starting Nov. 1, the public can support the Angel Tree program by obtaining paper ornaments on artificial Christmas trees located throughout the county. By using the information posted on the ornaments -- a child's first name and age -- anonymous donors are encouraged to purchase up to three toys.
Since the toys are going to be distributed to families Dec. 21, the items need to be delivered unwrapped by Dec. 17 to the tree location or The Salvation Army, 16 Felton Place. The nonprofit's office plans to accept donations until the distribution date.
For more information about contributing to the Angel Tree program or volunteering during or prior to its toy distribution, call 770-387-9955.
Along with this week's enrollment, Toys for Tots volunteers are holding additional sign-ups for its drive during a few to-be-determined days in November at the Cartersville Physicians Center, 970 Joe Frank Harris Parkway in Cartersville.
The Cartersville-based operation is going to distribute its toys for Bartow County newborns to 13-year-olds Dec. 18 at the Physicians Center, starting at 9 a.m. The Salvation Army will issue the pre-approved applicants times to select items -- ideally three toys and stocking stuffers -- for each child. If there is an abundance of donations, the items also will help supplement other Bartow toy drives in addition to The Salvation Army's efforts.
Local Toys for Tots organizers currently are recruiting businesses to serve as collection sites either for the public or for just their employees. For more information about Bartow's Toys for Tots program, visit www.kingston-ga.toysfortots.org or call Richard Goodson at 404-593-3547 or Royce Coker at 770-880-6316.
Formed in the early 1990s, the Bartow Christmas Coalition assisted 750 families -- 654 boys and 675 girls -- with nonperishable food items and toys in 2009. With each annual campaign typically recording a 10 percent increase in recipients, Kay House expects this trend to continue.
A volunteer with the campaign, she also is the director for North Bartow Community Services, a nonprofit in Adairsville that is trying to keep up with food demands that have more than doubled since 2009.
"I do [expect an increase] because a lot of the families that we have seen [at North Bartow Community Services] have drawn all of their unemployment and now they are still looking for jobs," said House, who will be signing up recipients for Bartow Christmas Nov. 5 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. "So we've seen a lot of families like that.
"[For Bartow Christmas], we get a lot of families that are just really appreciative because of how hard it is just to make a living, not even providing extras at Christmastime for their families. So it really does touch your heart when you see families that because you have helped them and worked with Bartow Christmas, they're going to have some toys for their families."
Bartow County residents can enroll in the campaign Nov. 5, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., at Trinity United Methodist Life Center, 814 West Ave. in Cartersville. During the sign-up process, applicants must provide a driver's license or picture I.D. of the head of household; Social Security card for each family member or tax return with Social Security numbers; proof of household income; and a document, such as a utility bill, to verify address -- no P.O. Boxes are accepted.
If donations allow, each qualified family is going to receive nonperishable food items, a gift card and two toys for each child, newborn to 14. Gift cards and food items also are being presented to adults 65 and older. The holiday items are going to be distributed Dec. 6 to 9 at the organization's Toy Store on Nelson Street in Cartersville.
To help this year's effort be a success, the community can help by organizing fundraisers, volunteering, contributing financially or bringing items to the nonprofit's Toy Store. Supporters also are encouraged to attend the Bartow Christmas Bash Nov. 5 from 8 p.m. to midnight at the Hilton Garden Inn, 24 Liberty Drive in Cartersville. Each $15 ticket will cover food, a cash bar, dancing and a live auction. All proceeds will go toward the holiday campaign.
For more information about the Bartow Christmas Coalition, call 770-386-2252 or visit www.bartowchristmas.org.
ADAIRSVILLE'S TOYS FOR TOTS
Spearheaded by Adairsville Church of God Rev. Ken Coomer in the mid-2000s, the Adairsville Toys for Tots program is going to be enrolling recipients Nov. 29 through Dec. 10. Organizers expect to at least meet the needs of 600 children, which was the number assisted last year.
"Our community, Adairsville, they have a heart for these kids and they have never failed every year," said Trenna Smith, administrator for the Adairsville Church of God, the distribution site for the toy drive. "This community has come together and just met the need. They saw the need and they filled it, every year.
"So I'm confident that this year they'll come together again and we'll be able to make sure these kids have Christmas. The reward [is] to see these parents walk through here and know that they're getting to pick out those toys for their children, [that their] kids are going to have Christmas and they cry. It's worth it."
From Nov. 29 to Dec. 10, Adairsville and Kingston families can sign up for the Toys for Tots program by calling Adairsville Church of God at 770-773-3264. Adults are required to verify residency. If approved and enough toys are donated, the individuals are going to receive a time to select three toys for each child -- infant to 17 -- at the Adairsville Church of God Dec. 18 starting at 8 a.m.
At this time, organizations are being sought to serve as toy drop-off sites for the public. For more information about the Adairsville Toys for Tots program, call Smith at 770-773-3264.