Thousands to seek Christmas help from Wake Salvation Army

Posted October 25, 2010 1:12 p.m. EDT
Updated November 17, 2010 2:35 p.m. EST

— Christmas is still a few months away. However, the Salvation Army is already getting ready to serve those less fortunate.

The Wake County Salvation Army began taking applications Monday from families who want to be part of the Angel Tree program, which provides Christmas gifts for children. 

By the end of the day, 611 families, including 1,511 children, signed up for the program, and the Salvation Army predicts that more families than ever will need their help this year. Of those, 172 families registered for the first time.

Single mother Shannon Signal was in line Monday. She works part-time and has four boys, ages 10, 9, 7 and 6.

"Hard times right now," she said. "I'm not working enough to give my kids Christmas this year."

The Salvation Army said it expects 6,000 children to participate in Wake County alone, which is about 1,000 more than last year and 2,000 more than the year before.

Each year, sponsors place Angel Trees in high-traffic areas in their communities, organizations and offices. Contributors remove one or more tags from the tree and purchase appropriate gifts for the child or children described on the tags.

Last year, the Salvation Army had to go out and purchase toys at the last minute, because they were running low and corporate donations were down because of the economy. This year, they hope to meet the growing need.

“They’ve blessed us every year for the last two years with beautiful Christmas gifts for those who really can’t afford to buy a lot for their children,” said applicant Elaine McGilveary.

Once inside, applicants must show some form of identification and proof that they have children and live in Wake County. There are no income requirements or proof of citizenship. People can come out all this week to register between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and Saturday 9 to 11 a.m.

“I interviewed a client (who) was here at 3:30 this morning to be early in line,” said Major Pete Costas with the Salvation Army. “It just shows that the people really need help, and they are willing to do anything to get the help that they need for their children.”