Salvation Army sees low turnout for Christmas assistance applications

Each year the Salvation Army helps families in need during Christmas, providing food and toys to help make the holiday merrier.

But so far this year, less are coming in to fill out applications.

Eyewitness News was there as the Evansville location opened up for its second and final week of Christmas applications.

For many years, chairs have always been full outside the application room, but this year… they’re seemingly empty. Leaving volunteers and employees wondering why.

“We are here to try to cushion the cost of what a Christmas is for a family,” said volunteer Gwen Rode.

Rode is heading into her 20th year of helping families fill out Christmas assistance applications.

“We try to supply them with two large toys, two to three small toys and a basket of food,” said Rode.

But she and other employees have noticed something is different this year.

“It is very unusual to see all these empty chairs,” said Rode.  

“One thing we really noticed is the pace of people coming in,” said volunteer coordinator Alex Rahman.

In the past, over one thousand Christmas assistance applications are filled out per year.

But this year applications are low, “Down about 25% from last year. I know we had 290 by last Friday. We usually have a 400 mark,” said Rahman.

While the lack of turnout could be a good thing, “You always want to hope for the best, they’re doing fine on their own,” said Rode.

Both realize it could also mean families don’t know about the upcoming deadline.

“But sometimes people get caught up with other things going on and put it on the backburner, get to it later,” said Rode.

“Everyone goes through a hardship now. It's nothing to be ashamed of. If you need help you need help, it's what we're here for,” said Rahman.

They’re hoping the families that need help come in soon so they’re able to celebrate an extra special Christmas.

This Friday, November 3rd, is the last day for Christmas assistance applications.

The Salvation Army is open from 9-3 every day until then. For those that work during the day, they will be open 5:30-7 on Thursday.

You will need proof of all income, proof of all household expenses (rent and utilities), social security cards for everyone in your household and your Photo ID or Driver’s License.

(This article was originally published October 30, 2017)


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