Brighter Christmas of Tracy will begin its 44th year helping those in need during the holiday season when they take applications for assistance starting Thursday at the Tracy Community Center.

Brighter Christmas director Steve Abercrombie said volunteers will takes application for three days starting Nov. 4 at the Tracy Community Center. Applications were taken last year outdoors at a park because of COVID-19 pandemic requirements.

Abercrombie said the local charity needs adult volunteers – 18 and older and out of high school – for the application and screening process. He added that this year there will not be a volunteer meeting prior to acceptance and processing of applications, but the need for volunteers, including bilingual people, is as great as ever.

Looking ahead, Abercrombie expects to help about the same number of families this year as in 2020 when nearly 600 families with more than 1,250 children received assistance.

“I think we will probably be about the same based on conversations with (Tracy Interfaith Ministries). They haven’t seen a big spike in demand and that’s usually our indicator. If their services go up that usually mean we’re going to go up,” Abercrombie said.

Applicants can come by the Tracy Community Center, 950 East Street from 9 to 2 p.m. on Nov 4 and 5 and then again from 9 a.m. to noon on Nov.6.

To apply for assistance applicants must bring:

• A picture identification, such as a Driver’s License or Walkers ID.

• Verification of children, including birth certificates, California Benefit ID card, or Social Security Card.

• Proof of income, such as pay stub or paperwork showing the amount of income or assistance the applicant and/or spouse received.

• Proof of rent, such as a rent receipt or letter from landlord or mortgage payment.

• Current PG&E utility bill

As things return to normal, some changes will remain with Brighter Christmas. Most notably the Angel Tree and Brighter Christmas Jail, which were cancelled last year because of COVID-19 restrictions, will not return. In their place, drive-up toy and food drives that began last year during the pandemic will return.

“They were very successful and so we thought let’s do it again,” Abercrombie said.

The toy and food drives will be held over three consecutive weekends starting on Nov. 13. The first drive will take place at two locations from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Volunteers will accept the donations of nonperishable food, and toys for children ages newborn to 14-years-old and money in front of the former Orchard Supply Hardware store, 1975 W. 11th Street in the Safeway shopping center, and at Save Mart supermarket, 875 S. Tracy Blvd.

Donations will be collected at the same two locations from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 20 and the on Nov. 27 only at the Safeway shopping center location from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“If people want to come out and help, we’re always grateful, looking for people to be there and help collect the items and then transport them over to the warehouse afterwards,” Abercrombie said.

Abercrombie said kids are welcome to come out and volunteer during the food and toy drives.

Volunteers will also be needed to help sort organize and box the food and toy donations in December leading up to distribution of the food and toy boxes from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 21 at Williams Middle School.

“We’ve been blessed with a great turnout and hopefully people will come out again to help us because we cannot do it without the support of the community for sure,” Abercrombie said.

People who are interested in volunteering can go to www.brighterchristmas.org and sign up in the volunteer section. A calendar of events is also on their website.

For more information you can email to brighterchristmasoftracy@gmail.com or call 833-3309.

• Contact the Tracy Press at tpnews@tracypress.com or 835-3030.

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