MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — WKRG News 5’s Magical Christmas Toy Drive has officially begun, and this year, the Salvation Army says there is a significant increase in need.

They say they believe the increase in need has to do with inflation. Earlier this year, inflation hit a 40-year high.

“Cars are costing more, gas is costing more. So people just haven’t been able to tuck away that extra little bit of money to help with Christmas,” said Captain Sheri Jones, the area commander of the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army says they’re seeing the effects of that, they’re seeing a higher demand for what they offer.

“We have seen an increase of 25-50% in all of our services, depending on that specific request, from utilities to Christmas, to rent assistance,” said Captain Jones.

And now that the holiday season is upon us, they are seeing more children who are in need. Normally the Salvation Army helps around 1,000 children, but this year they’re up to 1,400, which they said is a significant increase.

“It really is a lot of children, if you sit down and think about it, that’s multiple elementary schools’ worth of children that would not possibly have something underneath the Christmas tree if it weren’t for the community stepping up and agencies like the Salvation Army that are willing to step in and be that stop-gap for them,” said Captain Jones.

The Salvation Army said now is also the time when they need help more than ever.

“We need more funds to help people with their utilities and their rents, we need more toys to help all of these first-time people who have come asking for Christmas assistance,” said Captain Jones.

You can help the Salvation Army by donating toys to our Magical Christmas Toy Drive, donating your time by volunteering to ring the bell for their Red Kettle Campaign, or you can make a monetary donation.