Classically regarded as a time of fun and festivity, many families may find themselves dreading the 2020 holiday season; indeed, between grave economic concerns and the shadow of a looming pandemic, they may feel that they lack the spirit and the resources to celebrate.
“This holiday season, The Salvation Army expects to see a greater need for our services – more than any in recent history,” reads The Salvation Army Florida website. “Unemployment rates are expected to be 10%-11%, and based on the increased service we’ve already provided this year due to COVID-19, we need resources to serve up to 155% more people with Christmas assistance.”
Locally in Hernando County, Salvation Army reports that requests for holiday help have increased by 10 percent since 2019, and by 20 percent since 2018.
Ah, but the year is far from over–and now, at the dawn of the season of the giving, this time-honored agency has made it a mission to Rescue Christmas; the national tagline of this year’s Salvation Army holiday giving effort.
“There is a greater need this year,” said Lt. Julie Chamberlain, who along with Lt. Mike Chamberlain oversees the Salvation Army of Hernando County. “And more than ever, we need to help as much as we can.”
Luckily, many avenues are available for the public to support the Salvation Army this holiday season.
Needed Thanksgiving food donations include turkeys, green beans, corn, yams, cream of mushroom soup, pie fillings, marshmallows, stuffing, potatoes, etc. “All the classics,” said Chamberlain.
Kettle sponsors and volunteers. It wouldn’t be a holiday season without the presence of Salvation Army kettles on street corners and in front of area businesses. And once again this year, people are encouraged to stand beside and operate modernized kettles (ones that come complete with online pay apps for those who wish to swipe, as opposed to handling cash money). Another option is to donate via paper kettles available at area stores; or to sponsor both in-person and online kettles, either personally or on behalf of their business, church, family or civic group. “One lady named her pot on behalf of her cats,” said Chamberlain. “That year we hosted the Snowball and Fluffy kettle.”
Angel Trees. In partnership with stores such as Walmart, the Salvation Army of Hernando County hosts the Angel Tree effort; in which the gift needs of area families are listed on paper angel ornaments adorning trees posted in the stores. Customers select the ornaments from the tree and purchase the items listed–which could range from basics like shoes and computer tablets needed for school to LOL dolls and Minecraft games. Or they might take an assortment of angels for adoption by their neighborhood or civic groups. “One club might adopt five families,” said Chamberlain.
Online fund-raisers. This year, those interested can host online Salvation Army fund-raisers through https://give.salvationarmyusa.org/campaign/fundraise-for-good/c175635. And as always, they can donate through the Salvation Army website.
Gift wrapping and food basket assembly. As always, volunteers will be needed to assemble Thanksgiving food baskets and Christmas packages this year; and in light of global conditions, all volunteer sessions will be conducted with masks, gloves, wipes, and hand sanitizer provided, and social distancing enforced. “The one element unchanged,” said Chamberlain, “ is the magic of the proceedings.” “One year, when we were wrapping gifts at a store, a little boy approached awestruck and asked if we were working at Santa’s workshop,” she shared. Given the Salvation Army’s ongoing efforts to help those in need, the boy is not far off the mark.
“We need the community to come together,” said Chamberlain.
Sunshine Summons: The objective of Show Us Your Sunshine always has been to find and spread the good news and good will, even during dark times. And at this time, we encourage the Hernando community to Rescue Christmas for those in need. For more information, contact The Salvation Army of Hernando County at The Salvation Army Brooksville/Hernando County, 15464 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville, FL. 34613, visit salvationarmyflorida.org or call (352) 796-1186.