Salvation Army seeks help to fill increased need

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

This year the Ridgecrest office of the Salvation Army delivered almost twice as many Thanksgiving baskets as last year — and Christmas is fast approaching. Those seeking Christmas baskets need to sign up before the Dec. 13 deadline — and everyone else can help fill the need right up until the holiday itself.

In 2012 a total of 450 families signed up for Thanksgiving food baskets. This year, the Salvation Army scrambled to deliver 835 baskets, nearly double last year’s number.

“It was unreal,” said Envoy Donna Griffin. “We expect probably 1,000 to sign up for Christmas baskets. We were overwhelmed with those numbers, and thankful we were able to meet the need. Turkeys came in at the last minute, which was a miracle in itself.”

Griffin said that 2,578 people received Thanksgiving dinners from those 835 Thanksgiving baskets.

What’s caused the huge in-crease?

“I think it’s due to the economy. We’re seeing a lot of new faces that we’ve never seen before. There are lots of new people coming into the food pantry, too. I think people are moving into the community because it’s cheaper to live here than in the large cities,” said Griffin.

The Salvation Army is taking signups on Monday through Thursday, from noon to 2 p.m. for Christmas food baskets, until Dec. 13. “After that time, we can still take applications, but they’ll go on a waiting list. You can sign up for Toys for Tots here at the same time, until Dec. 12,” said Griffin.

Donations of both food items and money will be accepted right up until Christmas. You can drop these off at the Salvation Army’s office, 151 N. Downs St., during office hours, or mail checks to P. O. Box 189, Ridgecrest, CA 93556.

Salvation Army staff members are also leading a toy drive, to cover any youngsters in need who are unable to get into the Toys for Tots program, usually because of late sign-ups.

“We need gifts for age 12 and up,” said Griffin. “Little kids get toys but there’s usually not much for teens. It’s kind of hard for the little ones in a family to get something but there’s nothing for the teens.”

With the Christmas holidays coming soon, the Salvation Army’s crew of volunteers is going into high gear, with the sounds of the bell-ringers with their red kettles heard around our city.

Emergencies and disasters happen 24/7 all year long. When you drop money into the red kettles, expect change — in lives within our community.

If you would like to volunteer to be a bell-ringer, please call the Salvation Army’s office at 760-375-7219 to volunteer and get on the schedule. Clubs, churches, youth groups, individuals, school groups, families and businesses are encouraged to get involved. Musical instruments and singing are a plus.

Winter is upon us, with colder days ahead. To help with that need, the Ridgecrest Salvation Army is holding its annual Coat Drive for all ages. When you are cleaning out your coat closets, keep in mind to donate coats and jackets you no longer want, for those in need within our community. All sizes are needed.

Small children’s sizes are especially needed as are sweatshirts for teens. Hats and gloves are needed, also. “No person should be left in the cold,” said Griffin. These items can be dropped off at the Salvation Army, 151 N. Downs St.

“Our hearts go out to the disaster survivors following the tornadoes in the mid-west Nov. 17 and in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan on Nov. 15. Many have lost lives, homes, belongings, pets, and much more,” said Griffin.

The Salvation Army is also requesting donations to help typhoon and tornado survivors. One hundred percent of funds received go to the disaster area of your choice. Donations can be mailed to the address above.

“Charles [her husband] and I thank you very much for your support,” said Griffin. “This is also a good time to make year-end donations for tax purposes. Please, everyone, continue to have the Christmas spirit and support these programs. Whenever you shop, think of those in need and get an extra item or two to donate.”

Story First Published: 2013-12-04