Aurora families receive food, clothing, toys from Salvation Army during tough year

COVID-19 pandemic creating greater need
AURORA, Ill. (WLS) -- As Congress fights over providing relief to Americans suffering because of the COVID-19 pandemic, local efforts ramp up to help those in need.

On Thursday, the Salvation Army provided toys to more than 1,2000 families in the western suburbs.

With cart after cart and car after car, Aurora families are getting a helping hand this holiday season.

"I needed a little extra help to buy gifts for my kids," Judit Ramirez said.

At a time when they need it most, hundreds of families are getting clothing, toys, food and more from the Salvation Army, as part of their Angel Tree program.

"Right now I'm not working because of COVID-19, and I just want something to have for my kids," Esmaralda Arellamo said.

RELATED: Salvation Army receives 1st Red Kettle gold donations of 2020 holiday season

And Salvation Army Capt. Gabriela Rangel said there have been more calls than normal for help because of the pandemic.

But donations are taking a hit this year, too. There was some concern about how many families they could help. In the end, the community stepped up and opened their hearts and gave what they could.

"All of our non-for-profits ... food banks and stuff are really stressed out right now, but they do their part as everybody else does, so everybody is stepping up," said Alderman Carl Franco, with Aurora's 5th Ward. "I've seen more volunteers than I have ever seen before. Even though the demand is greater, the community understands that, and they are willing to pitch in."

The Salvation Army said it is still taking donations.
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