Rush to help families, individuals in need this holiday starts now

The Salvation Army's Major Debra Ashcraft said the agency is preparing to start taking requests for Christmas food and gift baskets. Their Christmas Cheer 2015 hotline opens Monday.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The phones here at HandsOn Central Ohio ring all day with calls from families and individuals looking for food, shelter and energy assistance.

But every year, two weeks before Thanksgiving, things get really busy.

“Coming up this Thursday is our Thanksgiving basket referral giveaway where we have thousands of people call looking for Thanksgiving baskets which is open to all Franklin County residents,” said Tom Brinsley, Senior Director of Community Insight.

Brinsley said it takes time to find a local food pantry giving out food baskets for thanksgiving. For Christmas assistance they take applications starting December 10 and 11th.

And every year they match thousands of residents with local churches, and pantries to provide a meal or gifts.

“For all requests from toys to food, we probably help between eight to ten thousand people,” said Brinsley.

The Salvation Army is also planning to take requests for help Christmas beginning Monday.

“For parents who are especially concerned about how are they going to provide a meal or toys for their child, they are planning ahead,” said Major Debra Ashcraft, Area Coordinator.

Last year, the Salvation Army filled requests from 6,000 families and gave away more than 20,000 thousand toys.

The economy may be better for some, but the need is still great for many.

“Some people are very embarrassed to hesitant to ask for help. But we want them to know that we are here to serve them,” said Ashcraft.

Many agencies require families and individuals to meet certain income standards. To see if you qualify, visit HandsOn Central Ohio’s website by clicking here.

For help through the Salvation Army, call their hotline at (614) 221-6561, extension 600. They will accept applications from November 16 to November 20. After taking a break during the week Thanksgiving, they begin again from November 30 to December 4. Click here to learn more.

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