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      Hundreds sign up for Christmas assistance programs

      While most of us are preparing for Halloween as our next holiday, some local charities are already getting ready for Christmas.

      Hundreds of low-income Boone County families are signing up for free toys and meals through the Voluntary Action Center TMs Christmas program.

      The sign-up process began this week and ends next Thursday.

      Organizers predict more than 1,200 low-income Boone County parents will apply for free toys and Christmas meals this holiday season.

      Despite a sluggish economy, Voluntary Action Center officials predict they will get enough sponsors for their Christmas program.

      We still need a lot more sponsors," Voluntary Action Center Director Cindy Mustard said. "Right now, we probably have 400 already. We TMll need about another 800. I think we TMll make it. Our goal is to get everybody sponsored by thanksgiving.

      If you would like to sponsor a Boone County family this Christmas or sign up for the program, you can contact Columbia TMs Voluntary Action Center at 573-874-2273.

      In Jefferson City, if you would like to sign up for Christmas assistance or be a sponsor, you can contact the Jefferson City Samaritan Center at 573-634-7776 and ask for Andrea.