More people than last year signing up for Christmas assistance from local charities

COLUMBIA, Mo. - While Thanksgiving is still weeks away, the giving spirit is in the air Tuesday morning.

Columbia's Salvation Army began its Christmas Assistance sign-up Tuesday and will continue until Nov. 20.

Other organizations started months ago and are looking for sponsors to support their families in need. This year, charities are finding they have more needing help than ever before.

"We are anticipating an increase in relation to people needing assistance," said Major Richard Trimmell with the Salvation Army.

"The number gets a little bit higher each year because there is a huge demand out there," said Logan Park with Voluntary Action Center.

"There is a concern across the country and especially in the mid-Missouri area that donations are not going to be enough to support the needy," said Timothy Rich with United Way.

Social workers blame part of this increase on the food stamp budget cuts earlier this month. The food bank in Columbia has seen more than a 20 percent increase in people needing food this year.

"People are having to spend more money on their food, which gives them less money to spend on other things," said Trimmell.

Other organizations point to the growing community, word of mouth, and smaller charity agencies losing government funding.

Whatever the real reason, there is no denial the demand in Columbia is here this season.

 "It doesn't take a lot to make a really big impact for someone's Christmas," said Park.

Charities tell ABC 17 News any donation will help.

There are several ways to get involved to give this holiday season.

The Salvation Army has the kettles to donate money, angel donations, adopting a family and toy drops-off.

At the Voluntary Action Center, a family can be sponsored.

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