People in need may apply for the Christmas Assistance (The Empty Stocking Fund)/Angel Tree Signup beginning Tuesday at The Salvation Army office, 810 E. 11th St. in Odessa. People may drop by between 1 to 4 p.m. from Tuesday through Oct. 26.
No appointments are necessary to apply for assistance in The Empty Stocking Fund — a joint venture of the Salvation Army and Odessa American — or the Angel Tree Signup but people must bring certain items with them to be interviewed and approved (see pullout).
“I always say without the support of the community, this is impossible,” Salvation Army Corps Officer Lt. Monica Contreras said. “There’s no I in Army, and we’re definitely an Army. It takes the community, it takes everyone, to make this possible and we’re thankful for every bit of help we get.”
About 300 families — just under 1,000 children — usually sign up for the Christmas assistance program, said Kathy Goheen, Salvation Army office manager.
She expects about the same number this year, although that number could change.
“The economy is kind of crazy — some people are doing very well and others are not doing well at all,” Goheen said, adding that there may be more people this year because rents and living expenses are high here.
Contreras said Christmas program requirements are more lenient than the Salvation Army’s other qualifying programs.
The application process runs from Tuesday to Oct. 26, but if there’s still a need, the Salvation Army will open up one more day for applications in November.
“And of course after that, if we have anybody that comes in and they have a sudden illness or house fire or something, we’ll accept those applications,” Contreras said. “We always do that.”
The Empty Stocking Fund kicks off Nov. 18.
“The Empty Stocking is to fulfill needs for children and families that are without Christmas (funds) for that year,” Contreras said. “So it supplements our funds for Christmas. And it has been rather successful here. The community is very giving.”
“It starts out slow, but it always exceeds expectations,” Goheen said.
The Empty Stocking Fund raised $124,000 last year, with a goal set at $95,000. The goal for this year has not been set.
The fund pays for household essentials, such as food for a Christmas meal and clothing, and toys for children for Christmas.
“The Salvation Army always does the Angel Tree program,” Contreras said. “People come in and if they qualify for assistance, their children’s needs get put on a tree. We ask for a need and want, which a want would be a toy.”
The Christmas programs help people from birth through age 14, Contreras said. The fund helps newborns but only if the mother is due by December, before Christmas.
Distribution of gifts will be around Dec. 20 (tentative). The Salvation Army accepts volunteers for Christmas programs and Thanksgiving Dinner activities, and anyone wishing to volunteer may call 332-0738. The Salvation Army in Odessa does have a Facebook page.
Items needed to apply for The Salvation Army’s Christmas Assistance/Angel Tree Signup:
• Picture identification.
• One form of ID for everyone in the household, such as birth certificate, Medicaid card, school ID, Matricular Consular, state issued ID, etc.
• Birth certificate for all children applying.
• Proof of residence, such as a lease or rental receipt.
• Proof of all sources of income for household for the last 30 days (paycheck stubs, SSI, food stamps, etc.).
• Proof of all household expenses (rent/lease receipt, all utility bills, home/cell phone bills, cable TV bills, childcare fees, car payments, insurance, etc.).