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Struggling in 2020: How nonprofits are making sure families get a holiday this year

The Salvation Army has set up a 'command center' for sorting thousands of toys destined to help hundreds of families this year

Thousands of toys in boxes and bags fill the bottom of a basement building in Carlisle, Cumberland County as stacks of paper outline wish lists for families who simply can't afford a holiday this year.

"We have about 300 families and about 600 or more children we are helping with our Christmas assistance this year," said Lt. Oziel Urbaez of the Salvation Army serving the greater Carlisle Area.

RELATED: 'Giving Tuesday' highlights great need across the area as organizations work to help struggling families

Among the names who need assistance in 2020: people who used to be former donors. 

"There are a lot of people that come to us that in the past have actually been donors and now find themselves in need," said Urbaez. 

Urbaez credits Salvation Army staff, volunteers, and the community for stepping up in 2020, a time period in which many people are seeking help for the first time ever.

"It is really important to us. I'm in this field because I want to help people," said Sean Nedimyer, case manager for the Salvation Army who has assisted with the 'Angel Tree' program for 8 years now.

Nedimyer estimated nearly 5,000-10,000 toys had been donated for the program this year.

"It does bring us joy. But, it's a joy we get day to day. Not just because it's the season," said Nedimyer. 

The Salvation Army's Angel Tree program begins with sign-ups in October. The distribution will begin on December 11 with participating families also receiving meal assistance. The Salvation Army is still accepting donations of toys. They request the toys are unwrapped so volunteers can match the gifts correctly children based on age and preference. 

Urbaez said some of the most popular toys include "PJ Masks, Fortnite, there's many different things. The Barbie's always a big one."