DESOTO COUNTY, Fla. - Desoto families in need were turned away for holiday help. The Salvation Army in Desoto County says it's running out of funds and kids are going without toys. WINK News spoke with a mom who stood in line for hours only to leave empty-handed.
Arcadia resident Lisa Taylor says she stood outside in the heat for hours Thursday, hoping to get her daughter on this year's Salvation Army Christmas list. "They said they gave out numbers at 9:00 and you'll just have to wait and see," she said.
Captain Josue' Prieto with the Desoto County Salvation Army says by 9:15 they had given 75 applications and were out of resources. Dozens of families had to be turned away. "25 families means a lot of kids probably around 100 kids," he said.
"We see a lot of families that we say, 'Sorry I can't help you. That breaks my heart. I have to stand there firm and say no sorry. But how can I say no to someone?" he said.
Taylor says the experience was heartbreaking for her as well. She says her family is struggling to make ends meet. "I know a lot of people in Arcadia don't have an option, don't have anywhere else to go," she said.
Taylor is not alone. According to the state, Desoto County has an 8.6 percent unemployment rate, the 13th highest in Florida. Even with these troubling statistics, Capt. Prieto insists, the community can turn it all around if everyone works together.
"I am begging please let us help people who need it. That is what I'm asking," he said.
"The communities have the resources to help to solve the community we don't have to look outside. They are there," he said.
If you would like to help the salvation army's efforts, you can send them a check or toy donation and let the organization know you want it to benefit kids in Desoto County.
To drop off or make a donation:2120 Loveland BoulevardPort Charlotte , FL941-629-3170
WINK News also reached out to the Desoto Chapter of Toys for Tots which tells us, it has a supply of toys and will send out applications to every child in the Desoto school system in time for the holiday season. For more info call 863-558-2415.