GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Families needing help providing Christmas toys for their children now have a new resource.
Coastal Family Health Center is known for providing healthcare for low income patients. Now it's taking on a new role as Santa Claus. On Saturday, volunteers began taking applications from people not sure how they'll afford to buy gifts for their children this year.
Coastal Family Health workers says they started the program because there are so few options for Jackson and George county families needing holiday help.
Brandon Burbage of Moss Point says as much as he wants to make this a good Christmas for his daughter, he just can't do it alone.
"I've been working very hard trying to provide but this right here really helps with the economy being down,"said Burbage. "It really helps."
Spreading Christmas cheer is what Coastal Family Health Center's Elves are all about. This week healthcare workers are volunteering their off days and time after work to register families for holiday assistance. The staff says many people don't have jobs right now and are hurting financially.
Clinical Supervisor Jamie Farris said the staff wants to give families "the best Christmas that we're able to. But in saying that, we are going to need help from donations from businesses that are able to help us. If they can contact us, we can get them boxes. Or if they can put boxes out, we can pick those up. Donations are greatly appreciated."
Coastal Family Health Center is asking for empty boxes, unwrapped toys, stuffed animals, gift cards, new clothes and shoes, wrapping paper, and tape.
Volunteers say they're expecting about 1,000 Jackson and George County families to sign up. They know some of those people will be parents who've never had to ask for help before.
"Don't be embarrassed," said Farris. "We've all been there. We're all still there. We all need help. Don't be embarrassed to ask. We're just a helping hand."
Coastal Family Health Center's Elves will be at Singing River Mall to register families on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday of next week from 5 pm to 8 pm.
Officials say the assistance is for needy Jackson and George County families with children up to the age of 17.
Applicants must bring photo identification, proof of residency, birth certificates and paperwork to indicate they are low income.
Organizers say they are looking for assistance in setting up Internet at the site.