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Janesville Salvation Army makes changes to Coats for Kids and Christmas assistance

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
September 23, 2011
— It’s natural to associate bell ringers and red kettles with the Salvation Army.

But the church and social services agency is about more than that.


Locally, it offers free community meals, a food pantry, transitional living, youth groups and ministry opportunities for men and women.


With the arrival of fall, the focus turns to the auxiliary’s annual Coats for Kids drive and Christmas assistance program.


The Salvation Army is changing the process for people to get help from those two programs.


Here are five things you need to know:


1. The changes: Those who need assistance are required to attend sign-up sessions. After signing up, they will be given times to return for coats or other assistance.

“Before … they just all came and lined up, and they waited and waited and waited,” said Tami Prochazka, social service coordinator.


Another change: People who sign up for Coats for Kids can at the same time sign up for the Christmas assistance program, which distributes toys and food for the holiday season. In earlier years, signing up for Christmas assistance wasn’t done until after the Coats for Kids distribution, Prochazka said.


2. Reasons for changes: The Salvation Army expects more people than ever and is trying to make the distribution process more efficient.

“They’ll have a specific time so they won't have to wait in line,” Prochazka said. “It will make it more efficient for them to come at a select time.


“I suspect we will have way more people than before,” she said. “Every year our numbers keep growing. We know the need is up.”


The Salvation Army food pantry this year has seen a 20 to 25 percent increase. Prochazka blamed the economy and lack of good-paying jobs.


“If they're finding employment, it's either part time or not at the income level they were at,” she said. “Every year you think it's going to stabilize, but it's really not.”


3. Sign-up dates:

-- Coats for Kids and Christmas assistance sign-up is 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Friday, Oct. 14.


-- Christmas assistance sign-up only: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 19, and 4 to 7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 1.


4. What’s next: People who sign up for help will get appointments to receive their coats and/or Christmas assistance.
5. Other ways to help: Salvation Army Majors Bob and Ruth Fay asked people to pass along information about the new sign-up process to help smooth the change.

For more information, call the Salvation Army in Janesville at (608) 757-8300 or stop in at its community center, 514 Sutherland Ave.



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