More Families Asking for Holiday Help This Year

Posted at 10:46 AM, Dec 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-19 10:46:57-05

Thousands of local families rely on donations to help them celebrate the holidays. This year local charities tell News 10 they've gotten even more requests for help, but many programs come with a deadline and there are not many options for families who miss them. 

It's a situation the Ryan family never thought they'd be in. 

"We have no idea what we're going to do as far as Christmas goes," Nicole Ryan said.

Things changed for the family after her husband's work hours got cut. The Jackson mom was looking for help this week, but when she called 2-1-1 Ryan says she found out there isn't much she can do to make the holiday special for her four children. 

"We've always been able to do Christmas just fine," Ryan said. "It may not be the biggest one, but at least it was something and they were always happy for what they did get. This years it's just not happening." 

That's because the deadline for most assistance programs is October or November, a deadline the Ryans missed. 

"Right now I'm just panicked. I don't know. I've tried everything I could it's just too late," Ryan added. 

According to 2-1-1 the options that are left are slim. 

"What is still available now is a Christmas meal, so someone can go to a place, an organization and have a meal for the holidays," said 2-1-1 Manager Jennie Pollak. 

It's news Pollak says 2-1-1 employees never want to break, so they try to let families know about holiday help early. 

"Our staff know when that Christmas sign-up is happening and are able to help with that," Pollak explained. 

This year 2-1-1 say it's gotten more calls from people looking for help. A demand the Salvation Army is also seeing. It's holiday assistance program is helping 2,077 families in the Lansing area, nearly 100 more than last year. 

The Salvation Army's Capital Area Coordinator, Major Alan Hellstrom, says meeting that high of a need takes months of planning. 

"We have to order supplies we have to get all the things in place and the volunteers recruited," Hellstrom said. "There comes a point where we have to set a deadline, cut-off the intake time unfortunately. We try to make sure that people do not slip through the cracks unfortunately sometimes that does happen and we hope that other churches or organizations can help with that." 

That's leaving the Ryans saving what they can for their children who range in age from 4-12. 

"Little bits of candy here and there," Ryan said. 

And she's teaching her children there's more to Christmas than presents under a tree. 

"So they wake up happy instead of waking up you know with tears in their eyes," Ryan added.