TERRE HAUTE —
Nearly 1,800 needy families are expected to line South Eighth Street as the Salvation Army prepares for another season of Christmas assistance.
Families wanting support for the holidays can apply at the 234 S. Eighth St. location through Nov. 10, and individuals wishing to make donations have an array of programs to support, officials said.
Rev. Honnalora Hubbard, 2011 Christmas Campaign chairperson, said this year’s efforts are extensive, describing the Salvation Army’s network of affiliated programs ranging from the U.S. Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots program and “Shop With Police” to food baskets. To qualify for receipt of these activities, individuals must register with the Salvation Army, which acts as a screening agency.
Salvation Army Capt. Cindy Hoag said applications will be accepted at the post between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Nov. 10. The application process requires photo identification, a Social Security card for every person living in the household and proof of address. Some proof of income, be that a Social Security statement, Medicaid card or check stub is also required, she said. Aid qualifications are determined by the federal poverty level.
And according to census data, thousands of Vigo County residents qualify.
The data show that in 2009, 28.7 percent of children under 18 were living in poverty, up from 22.1 percent in 2005. The U.S. average was 18.2, while Indiana averaged 17.9 percent that same year. In 2009, a full 48.9 percent of Vigo County children received free and/or reduced lunches in the schools, and 13,847 residents were issued monthly food stamps. In 2007, 51.2 percent of the county’s live births were to unmarried parents, and in 2008, 11,484 children were enrolled in Hoosier Healthwise, the state’s insurance program for low-income children.
“The need is definitely growing,” Hoag said. The local Salvation Army facility hosts a call center for eight area food pantries, and they’ve documented at least 40 new families seeking assistance each week.
“And those are families that have never asked for help before,” she said.
Hoag has been in Terre Haute now 21⁄2 years, and she said job loss is the biggest driver.
“They’re just not making it,” she said, explaining the rush her agency sees at the end of each month when people run out of food stamps.
Hubbard said needy families can apply for “adoption” and sponsorship by corporations, groups or other area families. Adopting a family typically requires between $120 and $170 and provides them with food and gifts for the holiday season. Those adopting local families in need can remain anonymous, or choose to meet, she said, adding local elementary school classes are joining in the effort.
“I think it’s a really neat way to get people involved,” she said.
Last year, 1,650 families were serviced through Salvation Army-related programs and the group expects about 1,800 this season. In 2010, some 481 families were adopted and 4,754 people received food.
Sgt. Michael Redding, Marine Corps Toys for Tots coordinator at Kilo Company 324, said the local program distributed about 17,000 toys to Vigo County children last year.
“I’ve helped three years,” he said, noting this is first to supervise the program, which takes new, unwrapped toys to area kids.
The program hosts a website at
www.toysfortots.org, and a link is available to the Terre Haute site. Businesses can serve as drop-off locations, he said, pointing out that Terre Haute Tattoo Co., a veteran-owned establishment, is offering discounts for donations.
Hubbard issued a statement to supporting agencies last week, explaining the growing need and opportunity to help.
“We each have our own stories of childhood and Christmas’ past that motivate us toward making amazing memories for others. We can bring those stories together and experience the true Spirit and miracle of Christmas as a bigger than all of us Community Christmas Journey,” she wrote.
• Contact Rev. Honnalora Hubbard at 812-234-7100, ext 215.