South Bend Salvation Army Kroc Center asking for volunteers for Christmas Care Challenge

South Bend Salvation Army Kroc Center asking for volunteers for Christmas Care Challenge. // WSBT 22 photo

The Salvation Army Kroc Center in South Bend is already preparing to get its Christmas assistance program underway!

The Kroc is asking people to volunteer for the Christmas Care Challenge. The opportunity allows people to see the character of our community and experience the joy of the holidays.

“I’m returning because I love helping people,” said Ja’Van Smith, Christmas Care Challenge volunteer.

Smith is coming back to volunteer for the Christmas Care Challenge this year.

“It’s just a wonderful time of the year. It’s a wonderful time to help out and just serve the community,” said Smith.

A lot of volunteers like Smith are needed to make sure holidays at the Kroc go off without a hitch.

The first step is its Christmas assistance registration.

Major Monty Wandling says not many people understand how impactful that experience is.

“What they don’t see is the week that we sit in this room and register each and every family. Last year it was just under 1,200 families. So what we want to do is just want people to meet the community and realize what need exists here,” said Wandling.

After volunteers see that need, they see generosity at Angel Tree.

“But then your heart gets warm because you see how the community is very giving,” said Wandling.

Then it’s a workout at the warehouse, sorting thousands of donated gifts.

Finally, the cherry on top, distribution day. Families in need return to the Kroc to receive their gifts.

“It’s just, that is hard to describe. You just have to experience the joy of seeing somebody come in and be so truly thankful that someone was able to help them provide gifts for their child or clothing for their child that they weren’t able to provide this year,” said Wandling.

Smith says volunteering at the Kroc is meaningful because it unites us.

“People come together, people pray. People who haven’t, may not normally cross paths in the regular day-to-day life come together at Christmas. And when we come together it’s surprising how much we all have in common. So it’s just a beautiful thing and that’s all I can say,” said Smith.

To complete the Christmas Care Challenge, you just need to commit eight hours of your time over the next two months to help out.

“Everybody has time. Everybody. I myself I work two jobs and I actually make time between my church activities, working two jobs. I make time so I can participate in each part of the challenge because it’s something that I really enjoy,” said Smith. “If you’re wondering what it’s like, come and see.”

The deadline to sign up for the Christmas Care Challenge is this Tuesday the 16.

Go to and click on Christmas to get your application.

Christmas assistance sign-ups begin on Monday the 22.

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