CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The deadline to apply for help from many Christmas charities has passed and groups are starting to get a look at how great the need will be this season.

The United Way’s Christmas Bureau works with more than twenty charities in three West Virginia counties to provide toys and food. Last year, they had a total of around 1,800 applications. This Christmas it could be far more.

“This year we are already at 1,075 applications and as you can see I have 1,000 applications to enter,” said Kerri Cooper with the United Way of Central West Virginia, gesturing to a tall stack of papers on the table Monday afternoon. “That doesn’t count what comes in today’s mail that was postmarked from Saturday.”

The stack on the table had not been entered into the system yet. Staff and volunteers are working as fast as they can. Cooper said she wouldn’t be surprised to see the final total close to double the previous year.

Leaders at the Charleston Area Salvation Army say the numbers are up there too even though in previous years requests for help had been going down.

“It is always hard to see that people are in need, but that is why we are here is to meet that need,” said Major Jayne May, Area Commander for the Charleston Area Salvation Army.

She said one of the reasons that the need may be going up this year is because pandemic related assistance is going away.

“People are starting to recover from COVID, government assistance is being changed, food stamps are different so we are starting to see the need rise again,” May said.

There are other factors, too.

“We have a little bit of inflation, we have some workforce that is not what it was pre-pandemic. So it makes sense that it is up,” Cooper said.

But groups are leaning on faith that they’ll be able to meet the growing need. The Salvation Army has already received calls from a few new businesses wanting to put Angel Trees at their locations.

“I’m seeing more Angel Tree sponsor’s so God is there, he’s seen the need and he is preparing all of us to meet our neighbors need this year,” May said.

If you’d like to sponsor a child from the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree there is one already up at Burke’s Outlet and a few other businesses. They’ll soon be up at area Walmart’s as well. You can find out more by contacting the Salvation Army.