COLLIER COUNTY, Fla.- Santa Claus will be busy exactly two months from now, but his many helpers are already hard at work. In Collier County, the Salvation Army is making it's list of who could use a little Christmas cheer.
The line at the Salvation Army in Naples wrapped around the building for much of Monday morning. It started forming at 2 a.m. It grew so long, so fast, they had to ask people to come back and try again later in the week.
Those waiting in line received tickets with numbers to designate their spot in the line.
For Jeanette Balzarano, it's the ticket to a brighter Christmas for her family.
"It's really tough when you live paycheck to paycheck. When you want to make sure your kids have a good holiday, you need a little help. This helps out a lot," Balzarano said.
Balzarano was the 158th person in line, and she got to the Salvation Army office on Estey Ave. at 7:30 Monday morning. By 8:30, the Salvation Army was at maximum capacity, with 300 families already waiting to sign-up for the annual Christmas Cheer program. Some were turned away.
"They'll be back tomorrow or the next day," said Lt. Michael Missey with the Salvation Army of Collier. "We can only help so many people in one day. We'd love to help everyone."
Each family who signs up will get Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, as well as two toys for each child under 12. They say even a small bit of help, is worth the long lines.
"This is my third year coming," said Kathy Aldana, the 217th person in line. "Last year it was a 4 hour wait. This year it will be the same. Everybody's in need right now. Anything helps."
Sign-ups continue all week long in Naples. You need to provide photo I.D., a Social Security card, immunization record or birth certificate for each child, and proof of your family income.
Families living in Lee, Hendry and Glades counties will have a chance to register later this week when that branch of the Salvation Army begins accepting applications Wednesday.