Jessica Mathews /

Local families who might be struggling as the holiday season approaches are encouraged to sign up for assistance through the Salvation Army of Livingston County.

The local Corps offers Christmas Assistance to Livingston County families through its Adopt A Family program, and the Toy Shop and Holiday Meal box program.

The Toy Shop is a program where families get to "shop" at the Army’s toy warehouse, which provides an opportunity for families to personally choose gifts for their children. The Toy Shop is done in partnership with Toys For Tots and will again operate out of a store at the Tanger Outlet Center off Burkhart Road. The number of gifts each child receives is dependent on the donations The Salvation Army receives each year. Along with gifts, each family also receives a Holiday Meal Box including a Turkey or Ham.

Two previous sign-up events were held and Lt. Robert Leach said there was a very good turnout for both. November 15th and 16th will mark the final sign-up events for those who need Christmas assistance from 10am to 7pm at the Army’s 503 Lake Street location in Howell. That is for the Toy Shop and food basket only, as the Adopt A Family sign-ups have passed. No registration is required and Livingston County residents in need can just show up, although there are some additional requirements that can be accessed on the Salvation Army’s website.

Lt. Leach told WHMI they’ve seen a huge increase in need across the board over the past couple of months with people looking for rental, utility, and food assistance as well as shelter. He noted they’ve also already seen an increase in the number of people signing up for Christmas assistance and they’re “getting hit pretty hard”. With cold weather coming, Leach said they only expect to see more of a need.

Meanwhile, Adopt-a-Family is a program that anonymously pairs a family in need with donors in the community. Families that are adopted will receive gifts and food for Christmas. There is currently a list available of local families in need. Leach said donors are currently being sought who are willing and in a position to do so, which is a great way to bless a family that is really struggling.

Bell ringers and volunteers are also being sought as the Corps prepares for its Annual Red Kettle Campaign. Based on the ever-increasing need, Leach says this year’s goal is $400,000 – which supports year-round programs for those in need.

More information is included in the provided links, as well as in the event section of our website. It should be noted the local Corps also has a new Facebook page.

Volunteers interested in volunteering for the Toy Shop can do so at: