For many in the community, the symbolism behind The Examiner's Empty Stocking Appeal is going to be a harsh reality this Christmas.
Times are tough, with the state grappling with an unemployment rate of 7.6 per cent - up 17.9 per cent on the decade average.
Household expenses are increasing, people remain socially isolated and for many, meeting the expectations of the festive season will seem impossible.
But there is hope.
In what has been one of the most challenging years in recent history, in 2020 The Examiner's Empty Stocking Appeal aims to raise $80,000 for those who need it most.
Now in its 112th year, the appeal supports four Northern Tasmanian charities - Launceston City Mission, The Salvation Army, The Benevolent Society and St Vincent de Paul.
Benevolent Society chairman Don Jones said many people had never had to worry about being able to afford Christmas presents for their children - until now.
"We are no longer seeing those people who we often call the vulnerable. It's those who have been hit the hardest by this pandemic, for a multitude of reasons, who are the new strugglers," he said.
"I think between now and Christmas, it is going to become an absolute avalanche of people who are suffering.
"As the money is reduced, more are going to suffer. It is catching up.
"The sad thing is we are seeing people who have always had their pride, who are now asking for help.
"But they need to know that's OK and we will help. We just implore those in the community who can donate to this appeal - to do so."
Since March, COVID-19 restrictions forced the closure of many charity shopfronts and services.
It also limited the ability of volunteers to help those most in need.
As restrictions have eased, many have had to adjust their services to meet requirements of a new normal.
Mr Jones said the Benevolent Society had been able to expand its services in recent months, with a renewed focus on outreach.
"We've expanded ourselves over this period," he said.
"We go to George Town with food now - we go everywhere we can to help people out, rather then them coming in.
"We've fared well and it's picking up very quickly."
Through the challenges, the charities have also worked to continue frontline services.
For the Salvation Army, this assistance was made in the form of food parcels and gift cards, financial assistance with medical costs, Aurora and Telstra assistance, household and clothing goods, as well as advocacy.
Anita Reeve, Northern Tasmania's social operations manager, said clients impacted by COVID-19 quarantines - both at home and in hotels - often didn't have family or friends to support them.
"We are also now seeing those who are temporary visa holders, many with no form of support due to family at home being impacted by COVID-19," she said.
"Those who have lost casual work or full-time work in some cases. [These are] often more complex and require referral to a financial counsellor.
"With the rollback of JobSeeker, we are seeing others who were able to manage through the first part of the year with the larger supplement, begin to return."
Uncertainty around the rate of the JobSeeker payment - known as the Coronavirus Supplement - beyond December 31 remains.
The rate was reduced in September, but remains above the previous Newstart level - something many social service organisation argued was below the poverty line.
City Mission chief executive Stephen Brown said they had seen a sharp rise in demand around the start of October.
"It's been quite visible from our point of view ... the JobSeeker reduction in the community," he said.
"We know some of our clients are finding the adaption of their reduced income difficult to manage, with it having been up for a while.
"We don't think we will not know the full extent of the impact of the coronavirus economic recovery until April to June."
Last year, with support of the Empty Stocking Appeal, the St Vincent de Paul Society in Tasmania was able to deliver more than 1100 Christmas hampers to those in need.
Vinnies Tasmania chief executive Lara Alexander said the organisation was confident the community would once again support where it could.
"The message is for the community not to lose hope," she said.
"Christmas has always been a time for families to get together and enjoy each others company. Even more so this year, when it's been so tough.
"I think it's a time when we need to live negativity aside and just look at how we can help each other.
"It's not just empty words, it's actual peace of mind where you take five minutes to reflect how important it is to have each other."
Last year's Empty Stocking Appeal raised $110,000 for the four charities.
The Examiner editor Courtney Greisbach said this year was shaping up to be the most important in the appeal's 112-year history, with a whole new demographic of people falling on hard times.
"We know how generous Northern Tasmanians are and throughout COVID-19 our sense of community has been stronger than ever," she said.
"However, the true impact of COVID will not be felt until Christmas and beyond.
"It's when JobKeeper wraps up that we will see an effect and the impact on the summer tourism and events season for industries will be revealed.
"This is why we need these charities to be prepared to help those who may be facing financial stress for the first time in their lives and we are hopeful the community will once again support us through this important cause."
What do you think? Send us a letter to the editor: