The ringing red Salvation Army bells outside of store entrances usually mean the holidays are here and shopping is underway. But, for people who've been shopping for a job, the holidays mean something different.
"They're worried about their children," says Donna Holloway, the manager of the Virginia Employment Commission. "They're worried about getting the gifts that all children want to have. Plus, they are concerned about their food," she adds.
Judy Fogle worked nearly 40 years as an educator before retiring. With unexpected medical bills, she says she needs part-time work.
"I retired and realized that I can't live on what I make with my pension and social security," Fogle says. "So, I was looking for part-time jobs and they're just not out there. No matter what kind of degrees you have, you're still not qualified to do the kinds of things that they're wanting right now."
Joshua Sturdivant has experienced a similar road block. He's brought all of his diplomas and awards in brick-laying. He's hoping this time it will make a difference.
"I've been going to other places like McDonalds, Waffle House and Burger King just trying to find a job," Sturdivant says. "Everywhere I go, they say we're not hiring, or you're not qualified, or you're too qualified," he says with a sigh. "It's just been really hard. I'm here today hoping maybe I can get a break."
Although the holidays are usually the off-season for hiring, job fairs and the constant enrichment workshops at the Virginia Employment Commission still bring people hope. There's a renewed sense hope in the office, every time the bells chime.
"Our unemployment and re-employment workers here have bells," says Holloway. "Any time someone comes in and tells them they've gotten a job, they ring their bells. We are rejoicing with them."
This time they're rejoicing for Eugenia Baker, who after six months of looking just found a job
"It's absolutely a sigh of relief. We'll actually get to do a little bit of Christmas shopping," Baker says.
Others are hoping the bells will soon ring for them.
"Miracles happen around Christmas," Sturdivant says. "So, if I could get a job, that would be a miracle."