LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Imagine not knowing where your dinner will come from on Thanksgiving, or not having any gifts under the tree for your kids on Christmas morning.
That's exactly what HELP of Southern Nevada is trying to prevent. Even during a pandemic, they're giving less fortunate families something to celebrate.
"I’m a single mother of four boys and I’m not working at this time because of COVID and everything," said Brianna, one of the applicants for HELP's holiday programs.
Like so many Las Vegans during this pandemic, she's struggling to make ends meet. So, on a chilly October morning, she's willing to wait in a long line to make sure her kids have a Christmas.
"I’ll be able to get something for my younger kids, which is an eight-year-old and a six-year-old. Whatever I put on the list for them to get, they’ll be able to get hopefully," said Brianna.
It's all thanks to HELP of Southern Nevada's holiday assistance programs, the 97.1-FM The Point (KXPT) annual Turkey-Thon Thanksgiving Food Drive and the annual 98.5 KLUC Chet Buchanan Show Toy Drive. With widespread donations coming from the community, these programs provide turkey dinners to more than 700 local families for Thanksgiving, and gifts to more than 2,500 local families for the holidays, all for free.
"It’s a relief, yes, to know there are other people out there that have a good heart and that are willing to assist people in their time of need," said Brianna about HELP's holiday programs.
"We want to make sure that families can maintain this traditional Thanksgiving holiday, just because they’re going through a hard time," said Abby Quinn, chief community relations officer at HELP of Southern Nevada.
Quinn says donations and distribution for these programs were done a little differently this year because of the pandemic.
"All of it has been the social distancing. Typically, we see a couple hundred people come down to do intake process the first two weekends in November. We couldn't have it that way. So, we did an online application, which turned out to be the best thing we could've done," said Quinn.
After applying online, each applicant still has to stop by in-person to prove they meet the parental, income, and residency requirements to qualify for the programs.
"I can’t ask a donor to donate toys or a frozen turkey not knowing that I check to make sure that the people coming are absolutely in need of that assistance," said Quinn.
But for the families receiving this assistance, it's well worth the extra work and the wait, so they can have something to celebrate this holiday season.
"It’s outstanding. It’s a blessing that I’ll say is in disguise for people that don’t have income. And for someone else to help out, for my kids to wake up to know they have something under the tree, it's a blessing," said Brianna.
HELP's holiday programs have ended for 2020, but if you'd like to learn more about them, you can click this link.