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October 29, 2020

Salvation Army Christmas assistance program moves online this year

By Shavonne Potts
shavonne.potts@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The process to apply for Christmas assistance this year will be done online only to minimize in-person contact.

“With CDC guidelines in place, we still want to meet the needs of the people in the community but we want to keep everybody safe,” said Karl Dahlin, commander of the Salvation Army of Rowan County.

For the previous few years, families who sought assistance through the Rowan County Christmas Bureau — an umbrella organization that takes applications from people who need help providing gifts for their children at Christmas —would wait in line at the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA. Volunteers would input all of the data into a digital application. Now, the same application will be used publicly online.

The application opens on Tuesday. Access to the application will close after 950 children have been served. It can be viewed at salvationarmyrowan.org. Dahlin and wife Janice have created short videos on the website that take families step-by-step through the process.

Dahlin said the application platform is the same that’s being used in cities across the United States.

“Now instead of me typing the information, they have access to it,” he said.

Families must upload scanned or photographed documents to the application platform to determine eligibility for the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program, the Salisbury Post-sponsored Christmas Happiness program and Project Santa.

Those documents are an ID or driver’s license; birth certificates for children 12 and under or, if legal guardian, custody papers; SNAP (food stamps) award letter; proof of all income and expenses; and a Medicaid card.

Families are to write the words “NO SNAP” on a piece of paper if they do not receive food stamp benefits.

The form can be completed via desktop computer or laptop, tablet or iPad as well as a smart phone. Families who apply must have a working email address.

Dahlin recommends families take pictures of scan the documents before they sit down to apply.

Volunteers will check each application to make sure it is completed. Volunteers with the Rowan County United Way will also be available via a phone bank to walk families through the application process.

Families will receive an emailed link if for any reason they have to take a break while filling out the applications.

For more about the application process and where to apply visit salvationarmycarolinas.org/salisbury/saangeltree/ beginning at 9 a.m. on Oct. 20.

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