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Salvation Army opens registration for Christmas emergency assistance

The Salvation Army-Florence Corps will hold registration for Christmas Emergency Assistance Oct. 24-28, from 9 a.m. to noon and 1-3:30 p.m.

“During the Christmas season, that’s when we get the majority of our people from Franklin County,” explained representative Patricia Clemmons. “With the program the way it is, we definitely want to meet every need we can, but in the spirit of doing the most good with the funds that are donated or the gifts that come through the Angel Tree, we want to make sure we’re doing the best we can … so it is a detailed application.”

People applying for this assistance must bring the following documentation:

  • Proof of residency in Colbert, Franklin or Lauderdale counties – utility or phone bill or rent/lease receipts from September or October; if more than one family lives in the same house, each family must show proof of address
  • State-issued picture ID for all household members older than 18
  • Certified birth certificates for all children in the home or a hospital crib card for newborns to 8 weeks if a birth certificate is not received
  • Custody/guardianship documents if one is the legal guardian but not the parent
  • Social Security cards or legal documents with SSN for all household members (or a passport or printout from the Social Security office
  • Proof of all household income (income from work, unemployment, disability, food stamps, child support and so forth)
  • Official Food Stamp Determination Letter stating number in household, household income and expenses and current benefit amount received. This is the letter mailed from the food stamp office.
  • Verification of those in college/university
  • Current, correct clothing and shoe sizes for all children through age 18.

Clemmons said people titled “qualifiers” will review all provided materials to determine each applying family qualifies, and then applicants will fill out paperwork.

Clemmons said the Salvation Army-Florence Corps has been active in this area since the 1920s and has offered Christmas assistance “in some form or fashion for a long time.” The Angel Tree method, in which families’ requests are affixed to a tree for citizens to retrieve and buy the desired gifts, has been in place since 1986.

Parents applying for assistance will be able to share their children’s shoe and clothing sizes, as well as their child’s “most needed” and “most wanted” wish list items.

“We do ask that they limit that – that they don’t ask for the most expensive electronics and things like that,” said Clemmons, adding that many times people are not likely to purchase more expensive items. One exception to that is bicycles, which Clemmon said people always seem to be willing to purchase. “I guess that’s part of what a lot of people consider to be a traditional Christmas gift.”

People who have signed up for Christmas assistance with another agency cannot sign up through the Salvation Army. New this year, people who received assistance last year or a previous year should be prepared to explain the emergency situation or special circumstance for assistance again this year.

“We have noticed over the years that we do have a lot of the same families,” Clemmons said. “We know that’s going to happen, but since we don’t want somebody to just get used to the idea of ‘Oh, an agency is going to help me with Christmas, so I’m not going to worry about it,’ … we’re just making sure they still have the need and the income still is not sufficient for providing ding extra things,” Clemmons said. But while there will always be people looking to “take advantage,” Clemmons said they know that for many, the need is genuine. “We see a lot of people who apply for Christmas who have been laid off from their job unexpectedly and are looking for work,” Clemmons said. And “a lot of people do live paycheck to paycheck.”

Parents or guardians should not bring children or cellphone to the appointment.

The Salvation Army is located at 1518 Florence Blvd., Florence. For more information call 256-764-4432.

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