CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — Halloween is still a few weeks away. So many people probably aren’t ready to start thinking about Christmas lists. But for local charities that provide toys and food the holidays are already top of mind.
Important deadlines are fast approaching for people who need to apply for assistance.
“It won’t take very long at all for this to disappear and go into these food boxes,” explained John Roberts at the Mountain Mission while referencing a shelf stocked with cans of corn. The crunch is already on to gather food to fill Christmas baskets for people in need. Many of the pantry shelves are empty.
The Mountain Mission is one of about 30 organizations in Kanawha, Putnam and Boone counties which work through the Christmas Bureau at the United Way.
“It is just a great partnership,” explained Barb Mallory with the Christmas Bureau. “It is a lot of people wanting to help folks and we get together and try to figure out a way to make it possible to help even more.”
The groups in the Christmas Bureau work hand in hand to help more people with the resources they have.
The Christmas Bureau has sign up locations in all three counties they serve. They ask families to provide proof they receive SNAP benefits or their child’s Medicaid card. They carefully track to make sure people aren’t being served by more than one charity. Even charities who handle their own sign ups enter information into a database shared by all of the agencies. It is a proactive approach to make sure donations like the ones coming to places like the Mountain Mission go where they are needed most.
“A lot of times you just don’t have enough of the food or the resources to go around,” Roberts said. “We want to make sure that all of the families, especially during the holidays, have what they need to feed their family and give them a good traditional meal.”
The deadline to sign up for toy assistance through the Christmas Bureau is Friday, November 1, 2019. They recommend anyone needing help call as soon as possible. The phone number to reach the Christmas Bureau is 304-414-4405. Callers should be prepared to provide their zipcode when they call. You can also call 211 to get information about the Christmas Bureau and other resources. As of Friday, October 11, 2019, only 400 families had signed up for assistance through the Christmas Bureau. In 2018 2,300 families signed up to receive help, so sign ups are running behind. If you believe you may need assistance Mallory said it is important to call as soon as possible.
The Mountain Mission is looking for help to fill Christmas baskets this holiday season. They will be hosting their annual Christmas Store fundraiser November 7 through 9 at 1620 7th Avenue in Charleston just off Patrick Street. For more information, you can call 304-344-3407.