LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — With the holidays around the corner, local Lexington charities are preparing socially-distanced events to serve a community that might be more in need than in recent years.
The coronavirus pandemic displaced thousands of Kentuckians from thier jobs, making it difficult for families to pay bills -- not to mention purchase Christmas gifts for their children.
The Salvation Army of the Central Kentucky Area decided to get a jump-start on offering assistance to families in the Lexington area. For both health concerns and convenience, the Salvation Army moved sign-ups online this year for those requesting gifts for their children.
"Most people these days at least have some access to internet whether it be their cell phone, whether it be getting to the library, whether it be something else they have at the house and, you know, kids with Chromebooks," Salvation Army Major William Garrett said.
The requests made by families will turn into Angel Tree tags that the community will see in Walmart, grocery stores and local businesses for fulfillment.
Garrett said it is never too early to prepare for the Angel Tree gifts, especially this year.
"You know, we don't want to find out there's suddenly a toys shortage this year as well we've seen toilet paper shortages and everything else so who knows what the next shortage is going to be, but we know that getting people thinking about it now and getting people ready for making sure people who are in need of assistance this Christmas that they're safe, and that we're able to safely provide them the opportunity to get in touch," Garrett said.
With the help of the community, he said the Salvation Army usually provides gifts for about 6,000 Lexington children. Due to the pandemic, the Salvation Army nationally is expecting an increase of 150 percent in requests.
"The way we make our city a better place or county a better place, the world a better place is by all getting involved, even if it's just in small ways," Garrett said. "This is a great, simple and very practical way to let your neighbors, to let your city, to let people who you might see every day and not know that they need that help, but let them know that their neighbors care about them that they're not alone in this," Garrett said. "That there are options, and that there's hope; there's hope for everyone and at Christmas time especially we want to be spreading that message and hope for everyone."
As far as other charities preparing for the holidays, the Lexington Fraternal Order of Firefighters said they still plan to hold their Toy Program but with some modifications. The Catholic Action Center also said they plan to serve the community for Christmas as "COVID will not stop the spirit of Christmas!"