CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Local charities are gearing up for the holidays a little early this year.
For many Coastal Bend families, the effects of the pandemic are still being felt. With the holidays around the corner, local charities hope to not only help fill their tables, but also the space beneath their Christmas tree.
“Lots of times parents find themselves choosing between buying Christmas presents or paying the light bill and it’s a tough decision,” said Monica Barrera, the community relations director of the Salvation Army of the Coastal Bend.
Not only did COVID-19 affect families across the area, but also the non-profits that help them.
“COVID did play a role in last years numbers. For example, we collected about 9,000 toys and we conducted roughly about 10 Toys for Tots events,” United States Marine Corps 1st Sergeant Hector Sanchez said.
Sanchez overlooks Toys for Tots in the Coastal Bend. He said pre-pandemic, those numbers were double.
“This year we are going to take a much more aggressive approach being that we are coming out of the pandemic and hopefully in safer conditions,” Sanchez said.
To help with their efforts, organizers said they really need people and businesses that are willing to be drop-off locations.
“We ask for volunteers to help out with toy distribution,” Sanchez said. “We ask those who can or are willing and able to provide monetary donations as well as brand new gift wrapped toys.”
For more information on Toys for Tots of the Coastal Bend, visit their website, call 361-445-5118 or email at email@example.com.
Also in need of volunteers and sponsors is Toys For Tots partner, Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi, which also helps people with food and clothing assistance.
“We do help 2,500 families with meals,” said Elma Ortiz, director of crisis assistance and family self-sufficiency program for CCCC. “Our registration starts just in a couple of weeks on October the 25.”
They are asking people to sign up early for their Christmas Meal Basket and Toys for Tots drive-thru to make sure they can feed every family.
The drive-thrus will take place December 20-23. The exact schedule and information to volunteer, donate and sign up can be found on their website or by calling 361-884-0651.
Also asking for early registration in 2021 is the Salvation Army of the Coastal Bend.
During their Angel Tree program, families in need can sign up and their wish list will be added to a tag on a tree at different places around the community.
“People who take these tags have the opportunity to buy those gifts so that the child is able to receive gifts on Christmas morning,” Barrera said.
Angel Trees will be placed at La Palmera Mall or the Salvation Army Family Store at 5042 SPID. Other businesses participating will be announced at a later date.
Families wishing to be on the Angel Tree are asked to schedule an appointment starting Monday, October 11 to October 15 by calling 361-442-0863.