With the holiday season closing in, charities far and wide have been getting an early start to help those in need. Every year around this time, organizations like Eveline Rivers and The Salvation Army are doing the best that they can to help out those who are less fortunate in the community. According to the Eveline Rivers Christmas Project website, their primary mission is to improve educational outcomes and supply basic childhood needs to economically disadvantaged children during the Christmas and winter season.
The project will be celebrating their 30th Christmas this year, and strives to promote literacy in homes where books are considered a luxury, provide warm coats to children in Amarillo and surrounding communities and enhance the spirit of giving during the Christmas season by providing toys, books and personal hygiene items to economically-deprived children in the Amarillo area. Last year alone, the Christmas Project was able to give over 14,000 books to homes in Amarillo, and provided several children with a gift on Christmas morning.
“This project has grown from serving 43 children in 1979 to providing over 9,500 children and adolescents with Christmas gifts and over 4,000 children with warm coats in 2011. Of all donations received, approximately 92 percent of the funds are spent directly on goods and services for children and families. The Christmas project employs one clerical staff person. There are no other salaried positions within this organization,” states evlineriversproject.org.
Other organizations like The Salvation Army are doing their part as well. Each year, people turn to The Salvation Army for help during the holidays. They can help people with anything from providing food for a Thanksgiving dinner, to just wanting to see their children’s eyes light up when they see presents under the Christmas tree.
“We do a few different programs, like the Angel Tree each year which helps any families that need Christmas assistance,” said Mary Sue Baab, community relations and resource development director for The Salvation Army. “The Angel Tree has been able to help those who have been less fortunate when they need it most, and this year it will kick off on Nov. 17. We also do food and toy drives, and have bell ringers that collect any donations. The bell ringers actually started on Nov. 16 this year, and kicked off their fundraising season with WT’s very own mascot, Bucky the Buffalo.”
The bell ringers can be found at various local businesses and locations, and simply collect any and all donations placed in their traditional red kettles. The bell ringing program is able to bring in millions of dollars in donations each year to assist needy families, senior citizens and the homeless.
According to the Salvation Army’s national website, “donations provide Christmas dinners, clothing, and toys for families in need. Financial assistance also helps with basic necessities, along with seasonal aid. Families of prisoners often are included.”
Volunteers distribute gifts to shut-ins in hospitals and nursing homes, and shelters are open for sit-down dinners. Many families receive aid over a period of months after the Christmas season as well, to help those struggling with difficult family, emotional or employment problems.