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Christmas Cheer signing up record number of families

By Staff | Oct 30, 2009

Halloween is this weekend, but The Salvation Army of Lee County has already kicked off its 2009 Christmas Cheer program and a record number of families have registered.
More families than ever have signed up for the program, said Megan Spears, spokesperson for The Salvation Army. As of Thursday, 1,112 families had requested assistance.
Officials signed up 673 families on the first day of registration, Wednesday, and 439 families Thursday.
“Not only are we seeing high numbers, but we are also seeing a record number of families who have never had to ask for help before,” Maj. Art Penhale said.
Spears said registration numbers are likely to be higher next week. The Salvation Army will not sign up families after Nov. 7.
Each family that registers for the Christmas Cheer program receives an appointment card to shop for presents at a warehouse on Crystal Drive in Fort Myers.
It may seem early, but last year the The Salvation Army began registering people for the program on Oct. 29.
“We normally run our registration at the end of October and beginning of November. That gives us time to get our facility in order and collect donations from the community,” Spears said.
Families who want to register for the Christmas Cheer program need to bring a valid identification, which can include a Florida driver’s license or Social Security Card, for adults and children, as well as a proof of personal income and benefits.
The Salvation Army is accepting volunteers to help ring bells this holiday season or act as a Toy Shop helper. The organization is also accepting donations of food for holiday dinners and a kettle sponsorship worth $500 to $5,000.
“There are many families who can’t make ends meet and truly don’t know what to do for their children this Christmas,” Penhale said.
For registration information or to volunteer, call 278-1551.