The center will assist approximately 180 families with various Christmas holiday relief, Lee said. "The community has been most generous," Lee said of the army’s efforts to collect for the Toys for Tots and Angel Tree (clothing and other gifts for youngsters through teens) campaigns, as well as other efforts to provide meals for a number of families and a separate initiative to have holiday food and small gifts ready for several dozen senior citizens.
While all of these efforts are underway at the Hayes center, where toy and food pickups were scheduled this week by screened applicants, Lee said another very visible effort is the annual red kettles placed at a number of retail outlets in the community. There, bell ringers are spreading holiday cheer and collecting donations that will be used to support the army’s efforts in 2013.
Because of a lack of bell ringers, Lee said no kettle station was set up in Mathews this year—but she hopes that situation will change by next Christmas. In Gloucester, she estimated that 80 percent of the shifts were covered this season, with volunteers ringing bells from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve, except on Sundays.
In Gloucester, the volunteer bell program has been boosted by major efforts by Newington Baptist, Abingdon Episcopal and Bellamy United Methodist churches to get their congregants to participate, Lee said. It would be nice if one or more Mathews churches step forward to supply bell ringers next Christmas season, she added.