Christmas is one of the hardest times of the year for Australians doing it tough, with large numbers living in poverty and struggling to afford basics such as food.
Many will also spend the festive season alone.
Christmas is the busiest time of year for the Salvation Army - nationwide, it will serve more than 100,000 meals, distribute more than 500,000 gifts and toys and support more than 70,000 families in need.
"We can only do this with the support of the Australian public," Captain Darryn Lloyd from the Salvation Army Cessnock Corps said.
In Cessnock, 79 families had already applied for assistance by mid-November, and Captain Lloyd estimates this number will almost double by the time names are due on December 6.
People requiring gift or food assistance this Christmas are encouraged to visit Cessnock Salvos' welfare office at 14 Hall Street, Cessnock.
Not only is The Salvation Army in Cessnock running its annual Christmas Cheer operation, to provide toys and food security for those in need, it is also holding a Christmas Day service at 10am with all welcome to attend.
Community members interested in supporting the Salvos Christmas Cheer campaign can donate new, unwrapped gifts at the Salvos Store (126 Vincent Street, Cessnock) or at any Newcastle Permanent Building Society branch.
Newcastle Permanent CEO, Bernadette Inglis, said each year the collection highlights the community's generosity.
"Throughout our 31 year partnership with the Salvation Army's Christmas Appeal we've seen the Newcastle and Hunter communities dig deep to support this appeal," Ms Inglis said.
"It's remarkable how many people donate gifts year after year on top of their own family giving, and our teams really enjoy the opportunity to participate by bringing in donations of their own - it's very heart-warming.
"We ask that people consider all ages when choosing donations. It can be lots of fun choosing toys for little kids, but we often forget that teenagers are still big kids at heart and that parents doing it tough are always keen to give their older kids a memorable Christmas as well."
Financial donations to The Salvation Army's Christmas Appeal can be made online at salvationarmy.org.au or by calling 13 SALVOS (13 72 58). Donations can also be made in person at any Woolworths check out, Westpac branch or at Salvo Stores.
For more information about what The Salvation Army is doing at Christmas locally and across Australia, go to salvationarmy.org.au.