AUSTIN (Nexstar) — If you’re looking to help families this holiday season, it may be needed more than ever this year.

The Salvation Army in Austin has 11,000 children in its Angel Tree program ahead of Christmas. According to Area Commander Major Lewis Reckline, that’s 2,500 more than last year.

Bennie Rivera has been working with the Salvation Army for 16 years. He knows how families and children struggling this holiday season are feeling because that was his story growing up.  

“Being a youngster, myself, we grew up … basically where my clients are now,” Rivera said. “Just hoping that we actually get presents or back then we were just hoping we get food.” 

Reckline said he’s never seen such a demand.

“We’ve had an explosion in requests,” he said.

Inflation is putting a strain on families. According to Reckline, the need for volunteers is greater this year than ever.   

“Partnerships here are huge, and we think that through the partnerships, probably about 8,500 children will be taken care of, which leaves us to have to worry about the last 2,500.”

Employees like Rivera and volunteers are working around the clock to try to get together packages for families.  

Rivera said the most important message in all of this, is this: “just knowing that somebody’s out there trying to help.”

If you want to adopt a family or volunteer, go to the Salvation Army’s website.