"Due to the economy still being in such a crunch, I just feel like we're going to have a lot of families come this year that need assistance," said Kay House, who will be signing up recipients for Bartow Christmas on Friday. "I think [some of the factors include] job loss, the high cost of living and there's just not a lot of jobs out there for people right now. If they've been laid off, if they do find anything, it's going to be a lower [wage] than what they were used to.
"[During Bartow Christmas' distribution week], we give them toys for their children and we also give them food ... so that they can have something for their Christmas meal. So many of the families would struggle with that and would not have those things if we didn't have Bartow Christmas," she said, adding what she enjoys most about helping register applicants is "meeting the people and just the idea that maybe some child is going to have a better Christmas because of what we are doing."
A volunteer for Bartow Christmas, House also is the director for North Bartow Community Services, a nonprofit in Adairsville that is trying to keep up with food demands that have nearly doubled since 2010.
Bartow County residents can enroll in the Bartow Christmas campaign Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at The Church at Liberty Square, 2001 Liberty Square Drive in Cartersville. During the sign-up process, applicants must provide a driver's license or picture ID 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 street address -- no post office 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. A gift card and food items also are being presented to each senior adult, 65 and older. The holiday items are going to be distributed Dec. 5-8 at the organization's Toy Store, 222 Nelson St. in Cartersville.
To help this year's effort be a success, the community can assist by organizing fundraisers, volunteering, contributing financially or bringing items to the nonprofit's Toy Store starting Nov. 28.
Supporters also are encouraged to attend the Bartow Christmas Bash on Saturday from 7:30 p.m. to midnight at the Hilton Garden Inn, 24 Liberty Drive in Cartersville. The benefit will consist of heavy appetizers, a cash bar, DJ with live music, dancing and an auction. All proceeds will go toward the holiday campaign. Tickets -- $20 per individual and $35 per couple -- can be purchased at the door or in advance at Melissa and Co. Salon, 1243 Joe Frank Harris Parkway in Cartersville.
"Basically it takes every single person in the community to come out and help out because it could be their family member, their neighbor or people that they might not know that need their help," said Bartow Christmas Coalition President Melissa Porter, referring to the drive being a community-wide effort. "It really solely depends on Bartow County to make this happen. If it wasn't for everybody having a giving heart and digging deep in their pockets, this wouldn't happen."
For more information about the Bartow Christmas Coalition, call 770-386-3399 or visit www.bartowchristmas.org.