Enrollment will kick off Oct. 25 and 26 from 9 a.m. to noon, when The Salvation Army’s Cartersville Corps signs up applicants for either its Angel Tree program or the Cartersville-based Toys for Tots effort.
“For last year, it looks like we helped right around 1,400 children,” said Salvation Army Lt. Michelle Wilson. “Based on the growing need this year and the increased need that we’ve seen in our other services, like our food pantry and our financial assistance program, we’re targeting probably for close to 2,000 children this year that The Salvation Army and Toys for Tots will be assisting for Christmas.”
During the sign-up process, parents and legal guardians of children, newborn to 13, will need to bring ID, proof of need — recent paycheck stub or government assistance document — verification of Bartow County address and two forms of ID for each child, such as a birth certificate or Social Security card, to The Salvation Army’s office at 16 Felton Place.
To help this year’s effort be a success, The Salvation Army currently is recruiting groups to feature artificial Christmas trees for its Angel Tree program. Once the trees are installed at the beginning of November, they will be adorned with paper ornaments containing a child’s first name and age, clothing size and suggested gifts. After selecting the ornament, the anonymous donor will deliver the contributions, unwrapped, by Dec. 14 to the tree location or The Salvation Army.
“The significance of The Salvation Army Angel Tree program, which dates back I believe to the early ’70s in Virginia ... is [it is] just a way for parents to be able to provide for their children,” Wilson said. “No child should wake up on Christmas morning and not find something for them and the program that The Salvation Army puts together and does essentially meets that need.
“We’re able to provide items for the children for Christmas so that the parents who are unemployed and the parents who are struggling to make ends meet and can’t even imagine where the money is going to come to buy something for their children for Christmas ... can turn to The Salvation Army and us along with partners in the community — different businesses and organizations — come together and work collaboratively to provide for the children.”
For more information about contributing to the Angel Tree program, call 770-387-9955.
CARTERSVILLE-BASED TOYS FOR TOTS
Along with the Oct. 25 and 26 enrollment, the Cartersville-based Toys for Tots will hold an additional sign-up in November for its toy drive.
“Since Oct. 1, I’ve probably had 25 percent more calls than I have had in the last two years for help,” said Richard Goodson, Bartow County assistant coordinator for the Toys for Tots campaign. “I think that’s why we’re trying to get our sign-ups a little bit earlier this year. I’ve even had churches that in prior years were big contributors helping us with the toys that actually are asking for assistance this year with some of their congregation.
“So the need this year ... is going to be even more great than it was last year. Every year it seems that the need for toys for families, it just grows and grows and grows. Most families, they’re trying to keep the lights and the car payments [up to date]. Christmas, unfortunately, for the kids is just a thing of the past. It’s not the season anymore because the family doesn’t have the money to have the season.”
Along with seeking volunteers for their toy drive, Toys for Tots organizers are recruiting businesses to serve as collection sites for the public. All of the containers will be marked “Bartow County,” with Goodson and Royce Coker’s names and phone numbers. Once collected, the toys will be dispersed to families Dec. 15 at a to-be-determined location. This year’s campaign will officially kick off Oct. 20 with an offering at Harley-Davidson of Cartersville, Goodson said.
For more information about the Toys for Tots program, call Goodson at 404-593-3547 or Coker at 770-880-6316.
With each annual campaign typically recording a 10 percent increase in recipients, Bartow Christmas Coalition organizers expect this trend to continue. Formed in 1992, the nonprofit assisted 2,553 people with nonperishable food items and toys in 2011.
“A lot of people have lost their jobs with the economy and everything being down,” said Melissa Porter, president of the Bartow Christmas Coalition. “It definitely, I think, means a lot for their kids to wake up Christmas morning and to have something. ... [Otherwise] they might not get anything because nobody’s really working much.”
Bartow County residents can enroll in the Bartow Christmas campaign Nov. 2 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at The Church at Liberty Square, 2001 Liberty Square Drive in Cartersville. 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 P.O. boxes accepted.
If donations allow, each qualified family will receive nonperishable food items, a gift card and two toys for each child, newborn to 14. A gift card and food items also will be presented to each senior adult, 62 and older during the distribution — Dec. 10 to 13 at the organization’s Toy Store, 222 Nelson St. in Cartersville.
The community can assist Bartow Christmas’ efforts by organizing fundraisers, volunteering, contributing financially or bringing items to the nonprofit’s Toy Store prior to the distribution. Supporters also are encouraged to attend the Bartow Christmas Bash Nov. 2 from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, 24 Liberty Drive in Cartersville. The benefit will feature food, a cash bar, dancing, and a silent and live auction.
For more information about the Bartow Christmas Coalition, call 770-386-3399 or visit its Facebook page.
ADAIRSVILLE’S TOYS FOR TOTS
Organized by Adairsville Church of God Rev. Ken Coomer in the mid-2000s, the Adairsville Toys for Tots program will conduct sign-ups Nov. 26 to 30.
“We have a later sign-up than everybody else because what we are really trying to do is help people that normally don’t need help,” Coomer said, referring to residents who have faced financial hardships in the past year. “... And, of course, we do a lot of zeroing in on Adairsville. Our hope is that every child in the Adairsville area will have Christmas.
“As a matter of fact, we’re going to do our best to make sure every child has Christmas. ... We make sure that they have not only the toys but we make sure they have [a] Christmas meal as well. And even though it’s Toys for Tots and even though the Adairsville Church of God sponsors it, the whole community does it. Everybody in the community gives, comes out, works. It’s a community effort.”
For their children to receive assistance, parents or legal guardians need to call the Adairsville Church of God at 770-773-3264 Nov. 26 to 30 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. If approved, applicants must bring the following items with them to the toy distribution on Dec. 15 — proof of Bartow County residence; picture ID; and a document to verify their children, such as a birth certificate or Social Security card.