How to help families in need this holiday season

·3 min read

As the holiday season approaches, families across the country look to local organizations to provide financial assistance, as well as meals and toys, for Christmas.

It is no better time for the community to step up, according to Mary Ashby, sergeant for the Salvation Army. The international organization is working alongside various companies throughout Cleveland County to provide angel trees, ornaments decorated with nametags of those requesting help for the holidays.

Trees can be picked up at Marshall’s, Denny’s, Fatz, the Cleveland County Arts Council, State Employees’ Credit Union in Kings Mountain and more.

“We reach out to the community to see if the parents need help with their children for Christmas,” said Ashby. “Our community is a very loving community, and they will buy items for that child.”

Danielle Cline looks at cards on the Angel Tree inside Shope's Shoes of Shelby in this Star file photo.
Danielle Cline looks at cards on the Angel Tree inside Shope's Shoes of Shelby in this Star file photo.

More than 500 families will need assistance locally in some way this year. Ashby said requests have gone a little bit over than last year.

At the Greater Cleveland County Baptist Association, the staff creates a toy store to provide the ultimate shopping experience for kids in need. Families are assigned volunteers who help pass out the gifts. This year’s event will take place Dec. 14. Donations will be accepted until Dec. 13.

“We’ve been doing the toy store for 25 or 30 years,” said Missions and Ministry Team Leader Katie Harris.

Ray Degree with the Salvation Army organizes carts filled with gifts for the Angel Tree pick up day in this Star file photo.
Ray Degree with the Salvation Army organizes carts filled with gifts for the Angel Tree pick up day in this Star file photo.

Harris is encouraging those who donate to consider toys for children between ages 10-12, saying they tend to get more items for younger kids. The event will take place at the Shelby Mission Camp at 302 Sharpton Drive.

While they collect their gifts, volunteers, usually from a local church, will minister to the family and help them find a place of worship to attend. Harris said the outreach program is designed to the nurture the family as a whole.

“We use it as an opportunity to share Christ’s love,” said Harris. “It gives us a time to pray for the families and connect them with churches in their area. The toys are not the main focus. We want to share the love of Christ with them. That’s one of the main reasons we use volunteers and many of them are from churches around the country. When they come in to get their toys, they talk to them about their life situation and what they need.”

Want to help?

Several churches are taking donations now through December. Here are some of them:

Who: Bethel Baptist Church

What: Gift Card Extravaganza

How to help: Members of the community purchase gift cards from grocery stores, Walmart and other locations, and the staff will distribute those cards to those they know are in need.

Contact info: 704-482-8922

Who: Central United Methodist Church

What: Christmas meal, toiletries and essential items giveaway

How to help: Central UMC will host a free hot meal program on Christmas day at 11:30 a.m. In addition, the team will pass out gift bags filled with toiletries, scarves and gloves during their weekly Saturday meals.

Contact info: 704-739-2471

Who: The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer Shelby

What: Food Bank

How to help: The church is accepting donations for canned goods, as well as personal hygiene items, diapers, coloring pens and sketch pads.

Contact info: Send an email to deacon@redeemershelby.com or call 704.487.5404.

Latrice Williams can be reached at 704-669-3339 and lwilliams6@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on The Shelby Star: local churches and organizations are collecting items for families

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