The doors had only been open for six hours and nearly 80 applications were already submitted for the Christmas for Kids program.
Volunteers said they saw a huge increase in the number of families needing assistance this holiday season. Last year, 187 applications were submitted over the three-day enrollment period.
“We had more families in and a lot said, ‘We have never needed this before, but we are struggling this year,’” said Rim Country Optimist Club President Irma Bramlet.
One woman registering had five kids needing gifts this year. Bramlet said large families are not unusual.
The program gives money to each child to use during a shopping trip to Walmart later in December. Families also receive a food basket from the Rim Country Optimist Club. Children will shop with a police officer or firefighter.
Bramlet said $5,000 has been raised for the food baskets and at least $10,000 for toys.
Angie Sockrider, who was registering her family, said she formerly was a volunteer with the program for nearly four years.
“This is the first time I have come in,” Sockrider said. “It is nice they are still around. I thank God they are still around.”
Sockrider has an 8-year-old grandson, Jason, who needs presents this year. Sockrider worried that with her two teenagers, she might not have enough to give Jason what he needs.
“I would not normally need it, but kids don’t understand about a recession,” Sockrider said.
Sockrider has lived in Payson for 11 years and said this is the toughest year by far.
“With the way food costs have gone up and gas, everything is gone before you can spend it,” she said.
Jason said he does not care what he gets for Christmas, just as long as it’s not a girl toy.