Local agencies that try to bring a little extra cheer to families at the holiday season and throughout the winter are getting prepared for their busiest time of the year.
The Holiday Bureau, Salvation Army, Douglas County Warm Hearts, Emergency Services Council and a host of other organizations are either full-swing in their efforts or are ready to kick off their annual campaigns as the holidays approach.
The Holiday Bureau, a consortium of local agencies that assists families during the holidays, will continue to accept applications through Dec. 14.
Low-income or elderly people and families wanting assistance can apply at one of several local Holiday Bureau agencies: Ballard Community Center, 708 Elm; Douglas County Senior Services, 745 Vt.; Lawrence Indian Center, 1910 Moodie Rd.; Penn House, 1035 Pa.; and The Salvation Army, 946 Vt.
Sherry Cannon, Ballard Center director, said the Holiday Bureau agencies are accepting donations from anyone wanting to contribute. The agencies also are encouraging people to contact them to "adopt" families for the holidays.
THE SALVATION Army has set a goal of raising $115,000 for its annual Christmas Drive. Approximately 800 to 1,000 families in Lawrence and Douglas County are expected to be assisted by the Salvation Army, Commander John Churchill said.
The money raised through the kettle drive and a direct-mail appeal goes toward holiday dinners, gifts and toys for low-income families.
"We'll try to help any family who applies and who meets the needs," Churchill said of the Salvation Army's holiday assistance program.
The Douglas County Toys for Tots "Remember the Feeling" campaign runs through Dec. 14.
Sunflower Cablevision will hold a live telethon from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Dec. 2 as part of the campaign. About 100 volunteers are expected to take part in the telethon, said Jan McNish, office manager for Sunflower.
ALL TOY collections should be turned in to Sunflower Cablevision or toy collection sites at many pther local businesses by Dec. 14.
Toy distribution will be Dec. 18 and 19 and will be conducted by the Salvation Army.
McNish said about 8,000 toys were distributed last year. Organizers said the need for toys is up this year.
This year's local Toys for Tots campaign is sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, Sunflower Cablevision and the Salvation Army.
However, not all of the local efforts are tied specifically to the holidays.
The Emergency Services Council provides holiday assistance, but also helps families facing problems with housing, utility shut-offs, clothing and food.
Betty Norwood, ESC board member, said the council is a true "emergency-provider." The ESC is set up to assist families who cannot be served by other local assistance centers.
The ESC held one of its major fundraisers, a bake sale, over the weekend and raised $1,187 with some donations still coming in, Norwood said.
DOUGLAS COUNTY Warm Hearts also provides assistance to eligible families having trouble paying utility bills during the cold weather months. Its annual fund drive kicks off Monday. The goal for this year's drive is $65,000.
Another local drive is winding down for the year. The "Share the Warmth" program, sponsored by Scotch Fabric Services, will continue collecting used jackets and coats at its local Scotch dry-cleaning stores through Nov. 28.
Each coat donated is cleaned by Scotch, whose employees volunteer their time to clean the coats after hours and on weekends. The coats then are distributed by the Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary.
Of special need for the program are children's and extra-large coats.
Dana Rulon Frye, a spokeswoman for the program, said this year "Share the Warmth" is operating for a shorter collection period than in past years so that the coats may be distributed before the Christmas holidays.