In the Horsham area around 500 children from families facing financial hardship will be supported by the Salvation Army this Christmas.
Major Iain Stewart, from the town’s branch, told the County Times the charity is already supporting 140 families this year, and that number is set to rise.
Providing these families with toys and food will cost the Salvation Army around £8,000 this year alone.
This is why we’re calling on our readers to help transform people’s Christmases by donating toys, food and money to the Salvation Army.
In a series of articles this month the County Times will be exploring the impact of the Salvation Army’s charity work, and explore the people behind the fundraising.
Major Stewart said: “Most of us are so fortunate and we just have no idea what a difference this stuff makes.
“You have no idea of the massive, massive impact this has on the families that receive.
“This is Christmas. There are no toys, there’s no meal without this stuff. And that’s the difference it makes.
“For most of us we just have no concept of how hard it is.
“What people give and what they donate really transforms people’s Christmases.”
Major Stewart joined the charity when he was 19.
He said he felt a ‘strong sense’ he should join the charity when he was just 12 years old.
His wife is also a Salvation Army officer.
Major Stewart added: “The biggest thing is that I know I’m doing what I should be doing.
“I’m a church leader first and foremost.
“I love to see people become all that they can be.
“That’s one of the most exciting things.
“We try to help people day by day, week by week.”
He said despite Horsham’s affluent image, the high cost of living meant aid from the Salvation Army was ‘needed more than ever’.
Major Stewart said the level of community work for the homeless and the food bank was something ‘I have never done anywhere else’.
He added that carrying out the work helping others was a ‘privilege’.
Major Stewart said in cities there tends to be ‘lots of temporary homeless’ but in Horsham homelessness is more long term.
He added: “We left a four bedroom detached house in Scotland when we moved here.
“We wouldn’t have been able to afford a one bedroom flat in Horsham.
“Even between Crawley and Horsham the cost of living I would say is generally that much higher in Horsham.
“If you don’t have a well paid job you might well struggle.”
But it’s not just residents in the town who can face money troubles. The expense of travel for people who live in villages can pose a challenge according to Major Stewart.
He added: “Their transportation costs are high. Something has to give. People are struggling, life is expensive.”
Clothing can also be expensive, he added.
If you would like to support the Salvation Army appeal, here’s how to do it.
Food can be dropped off and cash donations can be made at the Salvation Army church in Booth Way/Depot Road, which is open most days from 9am to 2pm.
The deadline to donate toys to the appeal is December 9 but donations of food and money will be welcomed after that date.