SOUTH COUNTY — The Salvation Army is currently wrapping up its applications for the Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets program.
According to Service Center Coordinator Cindy Avelino, close to 200 applications have been accepted. The Thanksgiving Food Drive is possible through a grant that the Salvation Army receives as well as donations from the community. The baskets will be given out in the next two weeks.
“We are still taking donations for food to go toward the Christmas baskets,” Avelino said.
For those planning to donate, donations can be taken to the Soledad Salvation Army Office at 179 Main St. All donations are tax deductible.
Also underway is the Angel Tag Toy collection. The Salvation Army accepts toys for Christmas and places a tag on them that has an angel face on it. The name of the child also goes on the tag along with their age and what they would like for Christmas.
“We find people who will purchase these toys,” Avelino said. “There were two wineries here in town, Golden State and Estancia, who took over 30 children and each adopted a family.”
Salvation Army staff walked down Main Street and Front Street asking merchants if they would like to be involved with the Angel Tag Toy and were surprised by the overwhelming response they received. Some of the merchants took two tags, while others took 14.
“We are hoping that all the toy needs will be met,” Avelino said. “It’s really nice seeing the merchants want to give back to the people who’ve been purchasing from them all year.”
From November to February, the Salvation Army sees a rise in amount of need especially from agricultural families.
Continuing this year is the Red Kettle or the bell ringing, which will start Nov. 26 through Dec. 22.
The bell ringing will occur in all four South County cities and is looking for volunteer bell ringers. Bell ringers give about two hours of their time, and volunteers can sign up multiple times or just once.
“Bell ringing is supposed to be about 60 percent of our income,” Avelino said. “That helps out. In September, our food purchase was about $320, and in October it was $698.”
In Gonzales, the bell ringing will be in front of the post office; Soledad is in front of Foods Co. and CVS Pharmacy; Greenfield will be in front of Rite-Aid and King City will be in front of Safeway.
Soledad Salvation Army is an emergency food pantry, and is aiming to have a bigger impact this holiday season to help the community meet its basic needs.