Area families apply for Christmas assistance through Christmas Bureau
By Shavonne Walker
SALISBURY — Ray and Nicole Miller have a big family. While they are living paycheck-to-paycheck, providing Christmas presents for their six children can be difficult.
The Millers signed up for the Rowan County Christmas Bureau on Friday to determine which local program they may able to receive holiday assistance from for their children.
The Rowan County Christmas Bureau, which is coordinated by Rowan County United Way, handles the sign-up process to determine if families are eligible to receive assistance from the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree, Salisbury Post’s Christmas Happiness Fund and the Santa Project in Denton.
The Salvation Army and its volunteers will also distribute the Christmas gifts.
The couple’s children are 4, 6, 8, 11, 14 and 18. The older children aren’t eligible for the programs, but it takes a weight off their shoulders to be able to have presents provided for four of their children.
Children 12 and under are eligible for the programs.
“It’s a big relief really. It helps us out a lot,” Ray said.
Nicole said being able to sign up for the programs means they only have to provide Christmas gifts for two of their children. She said they’ve been able to apply for three years now.
Nicole said it was also amazing that volunteers take time out to walk them through the application process.
“We’ve been blessed. We can’t complain,” Ray said.
Registration on Friday and Saturday was at the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA, 828 W. Jake Alexander Blvd. The final date to sign up is Oct. 26. from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Applicants are required to bring the following:
• A driver’s license or other ID.
• A current Medicaid card.
• Birth certificates for children 12 and younger.
• Custody papers, if children live with a guardian.
• A Food and Nutrition verification letter.
• If an ID is expired, a recent lease and utility bill.
• Proof of all income and expenses.
• An unemployment benefits letter.
Also at Friday sign ups was Clarissa Elias, who said her boyfriend is the only one working right now. By receiving assistance, they are able to have presents for their almost 2-year-old.
“I’m very thankful for them helping us with Christmas,” Elias said.
She learned about the program from her boyfriend’s mother.
Christina Turner on Friday said she also lives paycheck-to-paycheck. She saved some money for Christmas, but had to spend it on recent car repairs.
She has two children, but her oldest is 13 and, therefore, not eligible for any of the programs.
Turner said that what she makes goes toward her bills and there’s little left over.
She said the program will help with the Christmas that she’s not able to provide.
“My fear is they wake up with nothing,” she said.
Turner said she was also able to receive assistance from the program last year.
Rowan County United Way Executive Director Jenny Lee on Friday said there were still two days to apply, one of which was Saturday. She said it’s essential that people bring all of their reporting documents so that they don’t have to leave.
Lee said she’s grateful for the donors who contribute to the Christmas Happiness Fund and the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree to provide for families who may be going through a financial crisis.
She’s also thankful for the partners who help make it all happen — Smart Start Rowan, the YMCA, the Salisbury Post, and Project Santa, which also benefits residents in the East Rowan area.
She said it’s important for families not to see the program as a handout, but a hand up.
Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.
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