HAMPTON ROADS The last day to apply for Salvation Army Christmas Assistance has been extended until mid-November.

The Hampton Roads Area Command said recently the number of applications is disturbingly low.

Last year around this time, the command had received about 7500 applications from families. The number as Christmas 2013 approaches: 1500.

'We want to make sure Christmas is special for children in Hampton Roads,' said Captain Brett Meredith of The Salvation Army. 'We want to make sure those in need have an opportunity to get applications in and felt it was important to extend our timeframe to better serve our community.'

The process began in late August/early September when the Salvation Army sent applications to local elementary schools. There was a difference this year compared to others.

Instead of parents and guardians having the ability to return applications, they had to bring them to designated locations during specified dates and times.

Meredith explained there were several reasons for the change, including the desire of the command to serve people better throughout the year and to administer its Christmas programs more efficiently and effectively. Those programs include the Angel Tree Program which helps provide clothing to children.

'We definitely don't want folks that are in need to go without,' noted Meredith.

Since 2010, The Salvation Army Hampton Roads Area Command has seen more than a 21% increase in families receiving assistance at Christmas. In that same time period, there has been a 22% increase in children benefiting from their Christmas programs with over 16,200 children receiving toys and gifts last year.

Applications will be taken in person at the Hampton Roads Area Command Administrative Office located at 5525 Raby Road in Norfolk:
Wednesday, October 30
10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Friday, November 1
Monday, November 4
Wednesday, November 6
Monday, November 11
Wednesday, November 13
Wednesday, October 30
4 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, November 5
Thursday, November 7
Tuesday, November 12
Thursday, November 14

Applications will be taken at the Norfolk Corps located at 5516 Raby Road in Norfolk:
Saturday, November 9
11 a.m. 3 p.m.

Applications will also be accepted in person at the Portsmouth Corps located at 2306 Airline Boulevard:
Friday, November 15
9:30 a.m. 3:30 p.m.

At the same time, the Salvation Army prepares for its biggest fundraising campaign of the year which it hopes will offset donations which have been flat of late.

'I think in the last couple of months, with the uncertainty with the budgets, and government shutdowns, and things like that, we've struggled to make the budget here, but the fact is we trust as things get back into a normal pattern, and folks -- the government's gone back to work -- that folks will be released to donate,' Meredith explained.

The Salvation Army's Christmas Assistance Program for qualifying families will begin distribution on Saturday, December 14 and end on Saturday, December 21. During distribution, The Salvation Army will see roughly 1200 guests a day seeking toys, clothing and food.

Christmas distribution is made possible through the generous support of The Virginian-Pilot, Joy Fund, United States Marines Toys for Tots and ABC 13.

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