While the bell ringers collect your donations, the Salvation Army counts on more than just your Christmas change. The holiday season is vital for them, and for their residents.
Resident Sharmaine Martin came to the Salvation Army a month ago in a time of crisis.
"Without them," she says, "My kids wouldn't have a Christmas. We really wouldn't have a place to eat or sleep. It would have been hard because I had no money when my house burned down."
Without the services of the Salvation Army, Sharmaine doesn't know what would have happened to her and her four children. "Anything could have happened," she says, "Because if I didn't find a place to stay, they could have taken my kids away."
"Where would I have been then?" she wonders aloud.
For the Salvation Army, the holiday season produces almost half of the budget for the upcoming year. The new Ornelas Center of Hope, which opens in January, is paid for, but the operating budget is not. Without their budget, cutbacks may have to be made.
Linda Edwards of the Salvation Army says several major programs may pay the price. "Rent utility assistance, food assistance, a possibility of some shelter assistance that could be cut back. We might have to limit the number of people that stay with us in our facility if these needs aren't met."
For now, the Salvation Army allows Sharmaine to continue as a full time student. She says she hopes others will get that helping hand.
"It hurts my heart to know that next year, they may not have the same options we had."