Volunteers at charities across the Maritimes are getting ready for their big fundraising push leading up to Christmas.

At Feed Nova Scotia, there's lots of work to be done.

"We've already received over 3,100 applications from families looking for support this Christmas and we know that number will end up being about 7,700 households looking for assistance," says Karen Theriault, director of development and communications for Feed Nova Scotia.

A donation of just $25 provides a Christmas dinner, including a turkey or ham, vegetables and an apple pie.

"Everyone knows that the turkey is the centre piece to a Chhristmas dinner, and it's so much more than just physical nourishment,” says Theriault. “For the people who are calling looking for support, they're looking to create that magic moment, that special feeling that comes with coming together around the Christmas table."

Gifts are also an important part of the holidays for many. That's why the Halifax Shoebox Project aims to donate over 1,000 shoeboxes filled with small items to women in shelters around the Maritimes.

"I think it's another opportunity to think about all of the things we are fortunate to have, and that there are people who are less fortunate and don't have access to the things that we do," says Carole Rankin, local co-ordinator of the Halifax Shoebox Project.

The project began in 2012 and has grown every year. It lets people give a personalized gift to a stranger in need.

"When people ask what they should put in it, I say what would you give to a woman you have never met before? Our clients really range. We have some that are 16 and some that are in their 60s," says Rankin.

Shelter Nova Scotia is also making a push for donations and volunteers

"Volunteer opportunities include cooking, sorting of donations, assisting us with fundraising and communications," says Linda Wilson, executive director of Shelter Nova Scotia.

Wilson says that for many marginalized Maritimers, Christmas can be the most difficult part of the year.

"There's so much societal pressure about belonging and buying gifts for those you love, and being together and watching those Christmas movies and things like that, so Christmas in the shelter can be pretty sad," she says.

The Parade of Lights is one of Feed Nova Scotia's biggest fundraisers of the season. That will be held this weekend. The Shoebox Project will be there collecting donations as well. They’re asking attendees to bring some non-perishable food items or change down with you, as a little can go a long way.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Allan April.