LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK) — Every child deserves a present for Christmas, and it’s Hiway 80’s mission to make sure that happens.
“Probably 98% of these families that have signed up, they’re depending on us 100 percent for their Christmas. Without us, they won’t have a Christmas,” said Director of Development, Amelia Heatherly.
The need is the highest the organization has ever seen.
Executive Director Brian Livingston believes the economy and inflation are to blame.
“Several families as they were coming to sign up, they were almost embarrassed about having to come, saying that they’d never had to ask for help before and things are just different this year, so we’re just trying to meet the need where we can,” said Livingston.
Toys are loaded up in Uhauls for the boys and girls and taken to Kilgore College for their event Saturday.
Even though they have a similar amount of donations as last year, Hiway 80 Rescue Mission said it’s still not enough to keep up with this record-breaking demand.
“This year we’ve got close to double the number of kids that we’re gonna be providing gifts for, so the need is much greater this year,” said Livingston.
Around 400 boxes need to be filled with presents, but not every child will receive more than one gift this year.
“We usually give about 5 to 6 gifts per child and this year, that’s not happening, we don’t have enough,” explained Heatherly.
The age group that struggles with getting donations is teenagers. It’s what Hiway 80 is needing help with the most right now.
“You hit the 12-year-old, 13 on up to 17, little more expensive gifts, little more difficult to buy for and that’s always the group that we have a hard time getting presents for,” added Livingston.
They are asking the East Texas community to help make a child’s Christmas a merry one.
“We’ve got that faith, but it’s just a little scary when it’s down to crunch time,” said Heatherly.
Thursday is the soft deadline for donations, but Hiway 80 said they will also be receiving items Friday.
Anything donated after that will be saved for next Christmas.