AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) – Aiken County is now taking applications for its Christmas Assistance Program.
What started as a toy drive nearly ten years ago, has now evolved into a program helping bring the entire spirit of Christmas to Aiken families.
Aiken County’s Christmas Assistance Program helps families in need during the holidays- providing gifts and special treats for children.
“Just to see their little eyes get so big, knowing that they have Christmas,” said Tandra Cooks, recreation manager for Aiken County Parks, Recreation and Tourism. “Everyone doesn’t wake up, you know, with Christmas.”
When the program started ten years ago, around 45 families were helped.
“Last year we did 127 children,” said Cooks.
Cooks says this is one of her favorite programs of the year. “Now we provide clothes, each child leaves with pajamas, toys,” said Cooks. “They may not get everything on their wish list, but we make sure everyone leaves with something. And everyone gets a Christmas Eve bag, which has pajamas, toothbrush, toothpaste, popcorn, hot chocolate and a book to read before going to bed that night.”
For the next two weeks, families can stop by the Aiken County Recreation Center to turn in an application.
Cooks says, with prices going up, it’s a blessing to be able to help take a burden off of families in times of need. “Kids don’t ask to be here,” said Cooks. “Parents don’t ask to be in the predicaments that they’re in all the time. So we want to make sure that if they believe in Christmas that everyone wakes up with a smile and gets a little bit of something. It may not be everything, but it’s enough to make them know someone cares about them.”
Cooks says, with prices going up, it’s a blessing to be able to help take a burden off of families in times of need. “If the numbers were to drop, that lets me know that the world is doing better- the state is doing better,” said Cooks. “But if it’s not…let’s raise that number. If we need to help more than 125, we’re here to do it.”
Christmas Assistance applications can be turned in until the 27th at the Aiken County Recreation Center at 917 Jefferson Davis Highway. If you live in Aiken County and want to know more about the Christmas Assistance Program, you can call (803) 663-6142 or email Tandra Cooks at firstname.lastname@example.org.