ESCONDIDO, Calif. - The Salvation Army is gearing up to help hundreds of local families in need and this year, the need may be greater than ever before.
The sign in front of the Salvation Army in Escondido says it all: urgent need.
"None of us have seen the need any more profound than we're seeing right now," said David Ebel, the corps officer and pastor for the inland North County areas.
Like it does every Christmas, the Salvation Army is gathering cans of food for its "Blessing Boxes."
"I have about 400 pounds," said Ebel.
Although 400 pounds sounds like a lot of food, it is not nearly enough to feed the 800 families who have applied for Christmas Blessing Boxes.
In previous years, only 400 to 500 families have asked for help.
"Right now, we would take 2.5 tons of canned goods to make these boxes up," said Ebel.
The boxes will include a chicken, sides to a traditional meal and toys for every child in the family under the age of 12.
The nonprofit says it takes a lot for parents to work up the nerve to even ask for help. Ebel said this is the kind of thing they hear frequently.
"'I used to be a donor and now I have to be a client. It's humiliating, but my kids aren't going to have a Christmas if you don't help me,'" he said.
The call for help seems to be working. While 10News cameras were rolling, one woman dropped off her donation.
"I buy usually one or two toys every month out of my grocery money," the woman told Ebel.
Ebel said the toys will make a big difference come Christmas morning.
"Some little person is going to be thrilled to get this," he said.
If you'd like to make an online donation to the Salvation Army, click here.