Christmas Happiness 2019 generates $42,559 for Rowan County families
By Shavonne Walker
SALISBURY — Every year since 1952, the Salisbury Post and Rowan County Salvation Army have collaborated on the Christmas Happiness program to buy presents for families in need.
In 2019, the collaboration generated $42,559.65 in donations. That’s compared to $45,868.31 in donations on year earlier.
Individuals donate monetary gifts to the Salisbury Post, usually in honor of someone. The money is collected by the Rowan County Salvation Army who issue gift cards to families to buy presents. Recipients register in advance through the Christmas Bureau, which hosts application drive where families apply for multiple programs, including Christmas Happiness.
In 2018, the program was able to help 915 children from 391 families. In 2019, the number of children needing assistance increased to 940 from 390 families.
Rowan County Salvation Army Capt. Janice Dahlin speculated this may be due to the timing of the application process in 2018, which was held at a slightly earlier time than previous years. Dahlin said she believes families were more prepared in 2019 and eager to sign up for the offered programs.
“They didn’t want to miss it this year (2019),” Dahlin said.
What surprised Janice Dahlin and her husband, Karl, was that the majority of the families who requested assistance were grandparents raising grandchildren.
Dahlin said they determined parents were not able to care for the children because of drug use in many of those instances.
She said one family, in particular, had all of the staff and volunteers in tears. It was a mother who was a victim of domestic violence and escaped her abuser with her children in tow. The woman asked for a bed for her children and someone donated two twin beds.
“When she came to pick it up she began to weep and we cried,” Dahlin said.
The woman told the Salvation Army staff that she’d moved suddenly and didn’t know what they were going to do.
“We had food from Food Lion to give her and the beds that the people gave her and the toys that Christmas Happiness provided for her kids,” Dahlin said.
“This is why we do it. Christmas Happiness truly provides for this community,” Dahlin said.