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Christmas assistance programs looking for help

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Deadline to apply for help through Helping Hand of Hope is Friday

By Marty Finley

Two local charitable organizations have a burgeoning need this year and are looking for a legion of Santa’s helpers to brighten the lives of struggling families.

Helping Hand of Hope is wrapping up the application process for its Hope for Christmas program while the Salvation Army is seeking assistance for its Angel Tree with hundreds of families looking for help.

David Dozer, executive director of Helping Hand of Hope, said his staff was “working feverishly” to process the number of applications already received, projecting a record number of requests.

“I think we’re going to have the biggest numbers that we’ve ever had,” he said. Dozer did not have a solid figure on the number of families who have applied as of Wednesday.

The organization provides each family a box of food with the trimmings needed to prepare a Christmas meal and sponsors the Hope Tree program, which is similar to the Angel Tree program. Hope trees have been placed at Towne Mall and the Hardin County Public Library in Elizabethtown, Dozer said.

The deadline to apply for assistance through Helping Hand of Hope’s Christmas program is Friday, Dozer said. Applications can be dropped off at the organization’s Elizabethtown office at 141 East Dixie Ave. or its Radcliff office at 620 South Wilson Road.

Dozer said families or individuals who sponsor a child are encouraged to spend between $40 and $50 on clothing or toys. Participants need to return their gifts by Dec. 16 to the location where they retrieved the name, Dozer said. Gifts should be unwrapped and placed in a bag with the name tag of the sponsored child attached, he said.

Much like Helping Hand of Hope, the Hardin County unit of the Salvation Army has a busy holiday season ahead. Capt. Joseph May, a spokesman for the Hardin County unit, said more than 200 families have applied and more than 400 children are affected. May said there have been hundreds of requests for clothing and the organization is concerned about a potential shortage through its Angel Tree program.

Angel Trees have been set up at the Kmart and Big Lots department stores in Elizabethtown and Wal-Mart in Radcliff, May said.

Those who adopt angels should deliver gifts unwrapped to the store where they obtained the names by Dec. 10, which gives the organization time to prepare the gifts and purchase items for any children who were not adopted, May said. In addition, the Salvation Army has partnered with Kroger to assist families with food and works with Toys for Tots, which May said should be able to meet the need for toys this year.

Applications for assistance were collected through the Community Action Council in October so the window to apply has closed, May said.

“We’re not satisfied just offering a blanket or food on a cold night to someone looking for a handout. Our motto is ‘Heart to God and Hand to Man,’” May said in a statement. “We want the people we help to be aware that our care stems from Christ’s love, and this faith can help them find their path to a new and better life.”

May said the focus on Black Friday and Cyber Monday had shoppers rushing to find bargains for themselves, family members or friends, but adopting someone through the Angel Tree program is a way to give back and ensure a needy child has a merry Christmas.

“It’s good when we give to our families, when we give to our friends, but I think there’s a special blessing in giving a gift to someone you don’t know,” May said.

Both organizations said they are looking for volunteers willing to assist in the delivery and distribution of food and gifts a few days before Christmas.

Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com.