In our ninth year, KSBY's Season of Hope has the power to help hundreds of lives on the Central Coast during this challenging pandemic.
Local charitable and government support agencies are asking for the community's support so they can make sure everyone has a present to open and food to eat this holiday season.
The shelves are mostly empty at the Department of Social Services distribution center. The donated new toys await new homes with kids in San Luis Obispo County who have fallen on hard times.
"We have at any given time about 375 children who have come into our care as a victim of abuse or neglect and by no fault of their own," said Roxi Selck of the Department of Social Services.
With so many people struggling financially, Selck says donations are down. Yet, more people are in need than ever.
"This year we anticipate the need to be a little bit greater because of COVID-19," Selck said. "People have lost employment and housing so we anticipate that the need for our support is going to be a little bit greater this year."
Season of Hope donations of new, unwrapped toys and non-perishable food items are collected at sorted at the Salvation Army headquarters first. Then, those donations are distributed to multiple agencies and families on the Central Coast. All donations stay local.
Elaine Mansoor and her team at the Salvation Army in downtown San Luis Obispo are gathering gifts, aiming to meet a need up to 20 percent higher than last year.
"We have about 1,400 kids that we hope to get Christmas toys for from Season of Hope," Mansoor told KSBY.
The Salvation Army will give out presents to local children, including those being cared for by Social Services.
"Shoes and clothing, to toys, skateboards, Legos, everything any other child would like," Selck said, listing of the items they would appreciate having donated.
Selck and Mansoor say gifts for teenagers are often forgotten. They suggest Kindles, make-up and gift-cards.
"[Teens] like to utilize gift cards so Target, Walmart, any of those places are great," said Selck.
Families can request specific gifts through the Salvation Army's online Angel Tree application and pick up fresh, free food twice a month.
"We're all in this together," Mansoor said. "It's such a different year. Come get the help, this is what we're here for is to help people in need."
For a list of drop-off locations and suggested donations, visit the Season of Hope main page. Toy, food and monetary donations will be accepted through Dec. 11.