Christmas Store 2018 North Augusta 67.JPG (copy)

Ron Mathews is one of the volunteers who helped retrieve toys during pickup among the sea of bikes, stuffed animals and boxes in last year's Christmas Store.

The Christmas Store, one of Aiken County's most prominent programs to provide Christmas gifts for kids in needy families, is on track to receive applications next month.

The dates are Oct. 5 and 12, and the site is First Baptist Church of North Augusta's family life center. Hours are to be 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. both days or until the first 250 applications are received. Families that have received help through the program during three of the last five years are not eligible to apply for benefits this year. 

Applicants are asked to bring a birth certificate for each individual in the household and also income verification for each of the household's working individuals. Anyone who has not worked in the past 60 to 90 days is asked to bring verification from his or her case manager or the unemployment office. Applicants should also bring verification of their approval (if they are approved) to receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. 

The program is bankrolled by hundreds of local residents and is also the subject of a massive assembly at North Augusta High School each December, featuring the school's "parade of gifts," as donated in support of the Christmas Store's outreach. Among the most common items provided are usually bicycles, dolls, sporting good, clothes and games, selected with guidance from an advising parent with each needy family.

Louvenia Mathews, one of the program's primary organizers, noted in a December 2018 account of the outreach that many of the aid recipients are "single moms, and for them to have to get up and get a little extra is too much."

Information for program sponsors is available from Mathews, at 803-474-3544.