Volunteers donate time to Salvation Army holiday assistance program

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- The season of giving is upon us, and dozens of volunteers helped give thousands of people help toward a happy holiday Tuesday morning.

“As early as October, the list was filled," Salvation Army Lt. Larry Carmichael said. "So the need is growing, sadly. The cost of living keeps going up and up.”

The Salvation Army’s holiday assistance program has already given out around 2,000 care packages throughout Sacramento County. Monday, they’ll distribute another 2,000.

“The criteria is first and foremost acknowledging you have a need, which can be hard,” Carmichael said.

They also look at income when screening applicants who will get not just ingredients for Christmas breakfast and dinner, but a tree and something just for kids.

“They may not know their parent are struggling to make ends meet. They may not know they’re not in the best living situation. But they will know if they have missed Christmas or if they didn’t receive a toy,” Carmichael said.

Volunteers are a large part of what makes this possible.

Megan Jonsson volunteered for the second year with her coworkers at Larsen Wurzel & Associates, Inc. She was able to send trees home with families last year.

“It was just a lot of gratefulness and people would go in and they’d ask, 'Which one do I get?' And we'd tell them, ‘You can go pick one,’ and they’d be very excited about it,” Jonsson said.

Donations are another driving force behind the effort.

The Salvation Army said it is significantly behind its fundraising goals this year. They said that’s partially because they don’t have as many volunteers manning the iconic red kettles.

“If someone’s looking for a new family tradition or loves singing Christmas carols, come do it in front of a grocery store with a red kettle next to you and it is so much fun,” Carmichael said.

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