WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. - It may be hard to believe Christmas is just over two months away, but one organization is already hard at work for the holidays.
The Tri-Cities Salvation Army chapters are accepting applications this week for Christmas assistance and the angel tree program.
When rent tripled this year for the Putnam family, putting gifts under the tree in December has already become a concern.
"I worry about Christmas for the kids, because after we pay our bills we're going to have like $300 left, and that's not even counting our groceries," said Rebecca Putnam while she waited to apply for her kids to be in the angel tree program. Their family is one of thousands expected to sign up for holiday help this year with the Salvation Army.
"You see the people waiting in line, you know there's something that needs to be helped," said Captain Nick Garrison with Johnson City's Salvation Army.
We checked last year's numbers and discovered the Tri-Cities' chapters served over 18,000 people combined for Christmas assistance. Over 7,000 of them were children in the angel tree program.
"If I didn't have the angel tree program, they [my children] wouldn't have their Santa Claus gift. They wouldn't have their one big gift," said Maurinna Morrell who was in line to apply for the program for the second year.
Applications for Christmas assistance are being accepted all week in the Tri-Cities, and the numbers are expected to grow.
When you go to sign up, you'll have to fill out a Christmas assistance application, but we found out, you'll have to meet a few guidelines first.
Along with an identification of everyone in your household and birth certificates for your children, you'll have to bring proof of income and expenses to see if you meet the federal poverty guideline.
"Basically one of the things I've told people before, if you qualify and receive some type of government assistance like food stamps, you're going to be able to qualify for our help here at the Salvation Army," said Captain Garrison.
That help that comes in the form of a simple paper angel can give parents the ultimate gift of the season; watching their children's faces light up Christmas morning.
"One present can make a world of difference in a child's life. It says somebody cares about me," Putnam said.
You can help by adopting an angel. Garrison told News 5 the official kick-off for angel trees is November 16th.
We learned to get Christmas help from the Salvation Army; you must apply for assistance this week. You can do that at these locations:
Bristol Salvation Army will take applications at their location on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday Oct. 22 through Friday Oct. 26.
Johnson City Salvation Army will take applications at the Washington County, Tennessee Fairgrounds in Gray from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Monday Oct. 22 through Friday Oct. 26.
Kingsport Salvation Army will take applications at their location on Dale Street from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Monday Oct. 22 through Friday Oct. 26.
Carter County applicants can apply next Monday and Tuesday in Elizabethton.