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Christmas Bureau taking applications, volunteers needed

By Shavonne Walker
shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — In an uncertain economy, families may find themselves struggling this holiday season and wondering where to turn. There are area organizations and programs that are set up to provide those families with some gifts, clothing and food.

The programs are the Salvation Army Angel Tree, the Salisbury Post Christmas Happiness Fund, the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots, Operation Santa, a program of the Arc of Rowan and Project Santa, a Denton area program.

Those organizations individually have their own criteria be it age requirements or need, but anyone who would like to see if they qualify for these programs can apply in person through the Rowan County Christmas Bureau.

The Christmas Bureau program was formed in 2013 as a way to make it easier for organizations to “provide assistance for children in our community,” said Bob Lippard, executive director of the Rowan County United Way.

The United Way was instrumental in bringing all of the organizations together and coordinates the bureau. In years past, each organization held its own day to accept applications, but now all of the applications are being taken through the Christmas Bureau.

The bureau is a revival of a similar program in existence several years ago. Although all of the applications are received at once to identify those in need, each program has its own fundraising and collection efforts.

Applications will be accepted on the following dates:
• Friday, Nov. 4 — 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m
• Saturday, Nov. 5 — 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
• Saturday, Dec. 3 — 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

The application process is also a way to avoid duplicating applications for area programs.
Only the parent or legal guardian of a child may apply. All applicants must have identification and documentation for all of the children for whom the application is being sought.
Using a common form, volunteers take applications at the J.F. Hurley YMCA, 828 W. Jake Alexander Blvd., during the above designated dates and times. Once approved, the requests are assigned to the appropriate agencies.
Volunteers are needed to help residents fill out forms on each of the day applications will be received. Anyone who would like to volunteer can choose a day and time they would like to volunteer. There will be a short training session 30 minutes before each session.

Lippard said even if someone volunteered last year they still need to attend the training session because there’s always some changes to forms or other details.

“It’s an incredibly rewarding time for our volunteers,” he said.

Volunteers take the applications and the United Way coordinates.

The programs for which applications will be taken are:
• The Salvation Army, Angel Tree, which gives gifts for children and food for the family.
• The Salisbury Post, Christmas Happiness Fund, which gives vouchers to families who qualify. Each child receives $30 per child that can be spent locally for toys and clothing.
• U.S. Marine Corps, Toys for Tots, the community donates new, unwrapped toys into collection boxes and coordinators distribute the toys.
• Arc of Rowan, Operation Santa, which provides for families with developmentally disabled children.
• First Baptist Church of Denton, Project Santa, delivers food and gifts to families in Davidson County and eastern Rowan County on Christmas Eve.

“It’s a wonderful three days we have together in serving the community. It’s also sort of a kick-off into the Christmas season,” Lippard said.

People applying for help through the Christmas Bureau should bring:
• ID/Driver’s License
• W-7 for each member of household
• If ID is expired, need a recent lease & utility bill
• Medicaid card
• Birth certificates for children 12 & under
• Proof of all income and expenses
• Unemployment
• Custody papers, if guardian
To volunteer to help with applications, contact the Rowan County United Way at 704-633-1802.
Follow the Christmas Bureau Facebook page at ww.facebook.com/RowanCountyChristmasBureau for regular updates on application dates and other details.

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