Thousands sign up for holiday help through food, toy programs - – Rockford’s News Leader

Thousands sign up for holiday help through food, toy programs

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The holidays are a time for giving but it's also a harsh reality for struggling families who might not have much extra to offer, so the Salvation Army is helping out. The organization's "Christmas Center" is taking some of the pressure off of people this holiday season. Friday marks the last day to register for this year's "Food for the Needy" and "Toy House" programs.

Maria Cabral is a mother of three. She was laid off a few weeks ago, and money is tight, so the kids won't be getting many presents this year.

"As a parent, I don't want my kids to know that it's a bad time for us to provide for them, to make them happy on Christmas." -she says.

Over 2,500 people registered from Monday through Friday of this week.

"The numbers are strong and that's kind of bad news, it just shows that the economy's not changing, it's not getting better. People are still in a lot of need." -says Salvation Army Winnebago County Coordinator Major Randy Hellstrom.

Come December 20th and 21st families will return to the center to pick out a food box complete with a turkey or ham. Toys will also be available and sorted by age. Major Hellstrom says despite the large amount of people signed up, there is no maximum limit.

"Anybody who comes in, we're going to try and help them, we'll figure it out somehow." -he says.

It's been a difficult past four months for parents like Noah Sanchez. He's been without a job or income, so registering to guarantee his four-year-old daughter a Christmas meal and present is a breath of relief.

"They make it easy to sign up, you just get your medical card and the information you should already have at home and come and bring it and they help you out." -says Sanchez.

If you or someone you know could use this holiday assistance, but couldn't make it to the Christmas Center this week, there's still have a chance to sign-up. The last-minute registration is December 14th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the center.

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