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Big Bend organizers gear up to help families with Christmas needs

Posted at 8:52 PM, Sep 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-24 21:34:06-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Christmas help is underway for Big Bend families and some organizations are coming together to make holiday wishes come true.

It's only September, but there's a lot of work and planning that goes into helping families celebrate the perfect Christmas. Organizers told ABC 27 that those Christmas day smiles are well worth it.

"Oftentimes, their parents, or parent, can't afford to give them some of the luxuries many of us take for granted," said G.C Murray, executive director of the ICE Foundation in Tallahassee.

Murray has spent the last four years holding the Share the Warmth Drive, an initiative to give students in Title One Schools cold weather clothing around Christmas time.

This year, they're continuing their drive. Murray said while toy drives are an important part of community service, they want to fulfill the needs of families in Tallahassee.

"We want to remove impediments from children learning," added Murray. "Some of the research we've seen is when children feel cold when they don't feel comfortable in their environment, they don't perform well in school."

One family ABC 27 spoke with today said they have used community clothes and toy drives for the past three years and they added that they think they make a difference.

The Salvation Army is starting their Angel Tree initiative in Tallahassee, while also gearing up for toys for tots.

Last year, The Salvation Army said they served more than 800 families during Angel Tree and too many families to count for Toys for Tots.

Organizers said the pandemic is a big reason moms and dads need extra help this year.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing. We thought we would be through it by now, and we're still seeing an increase in services that we provide to families that are struggling."

Captain Ashlee Wildish with The Salvation Army in Tallahassee also added that they expect hundreds of more families to require services this year.

Angel Tree sign-ups for families this year will start on Oct. 4, with Angels set to go out to businesses in early November.