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Need help with Santa? Application period near

By Elizabeth Cook

ecook@salisburypost.com

For some people, Christmas starts in less than two weeks.

Volunteers with the Rowan County Christmas Bureau will start taking applications Friday, Nov. 7, for five local programs that offer families help at Christmas.

Participating in the Christmas Bureau application process are:

• The Salisbury Post’s Christmas Happiness Fund, which gives qualifying families vouchers — $30 per child — to help them buy clothing or toys for their children.

• The Salvation Army Angel Tree, which gives qualifiying families gifts for their children and food for the whole family. The Army also helps some older citizens.

• Toys for Tots, a program of the Marine Corps, which gives families toys for their children.

• Project Santa, a program of First Baptist Church in Denton, which delivers food and gifts to qualifying families in Davidson County and eastern Rowan County on Christmas Eve.

• Operation Santa, Arc of Rowan’s Christmas program, provides gifts for qualifiying families with developmentally disabled children.

Together, the agencies provided Christmas assistance for 1,262 families last year. Though the programs may be best known for giving toys, people who coordinated the Christmas Bureau last year were surprised how many people asked for essentials.

“As many or more requested clothing and food as toys,” says Bob Lippard, director of the Rowan County United Way.

“Invariably, toys landed third,” says Jeanie Moore, chairman of the Christmas Bureau.

The United Way led the effort last year when the programs started coordinating their application process through the Christmas Bureau to share resources and avoid duplication. The bureau was in existence several years ago, stopped for some time and was revived last year.

Each program conducts its fundraising separately, but they join together to identify families who qualify for help.

Right now the Christmas Bureau is focussed on two things: recruiting volunteers to help with the application process and making sure people who need help at Christmas are aware of the application dates.

Applications for Rowan County families seeking assistance will be taken at the Hurley Family YMCA, 828 Jake Alexander Blvd. W., on these dates:

Friday, Nov. 7 — 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 8 — 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 6 — 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

People who want to help take applications for the Christmas Bureau should contact the Rowan County United Way at 704 633-1802. They can sign up for morning or afternoon shifts. Several people who volunteered last year have signed up to do so again this year, but more are needed, especially on the Saturday application dates, according to Lippard.

People applying for help should bring:

• ID/Drivers License

• W-7 for each member of household

• If ID is expired, need lease & utility bill

• Medicaid card

• Birth certificates for children 12 & under

• Proof of all income and expenses

• Unemployment

• Custody papers, if guardian

When they arrive, they’ll be given a form to complete. In addition to personal and financial information, they’ll be asked to prioritize the kind of assistance needed — food, clothing or toys — and to list the names and specific needs of each child. They can also indicate if they would prefer a voucher instead of a toy.

Distribution day will be held Thursday, Dec. 18 in the Life Church building (formerly High Rock Church) on Jake Alexander Boulevard. This is when Toys for Tots, Salvation Army gifts and groceries and Christmas Happiness vouchers will be given out to those who qualified.  Recipients will receive appointment cards in advance telling them what time of day they should go.

For more information, contact the United Way at 704-633-1802. The Christmas Bureau has a Facebook page at ww.facebook.com/RowanCountyChristmasBureau.

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