Salvation Army struggling to serve children in need this year

Gifts needed for hundreds of children as deadline looms

mquillin@newsobserver.comDecember 13, 2012 

  • Let’s be-Devil Barry! If your donations to our Holiday Guide to Giving charities top $58,000 this year, columnist Barry Saunders will don the garb of his hated Duke Blue Devils for a picture we’ll publish Dec. 21. So far, we’re at $8,000 – so we need to get busy. Please go to our database of local charities at nando.com/holidaygiving and click “search” to see the entire list. If you make a donation by Dec. 19, send an email to Burgetta Eplin Wheeler at bwheeler@newsobserver.com with the amount, your name or company’s name, and a phone number. Please put HOLIDAY CHALLENGE in the subject line. Thank you in advance for your generosity.

— In a year of record demand, the Salvation Army’s Operation Every Angel project, which provides toys and clothing for children in need at Christmas, needs more wings.

With less than a week to finish collecting items, the Salvation Army of Wake County still has nearly 1,900 children who have not been “adopted” by donors who buy clothing items for them. And the program also needs more toys, especially for children ages 10 to 12.

“Many of these are people who literally would not have anything for their child to open on Christmas morning, if not for the generosity of the community,” said Haven Sink, Salvation Army spokeswoman.

The program launches in late October each year, when parents register to receive help, based on income. People have been taking items to local malls but can adopt children online at www.keepthebellringing.org Thursday through Saturday.

Every year, a number of children’s names aren’t claimed until just before the collection deadline. But this year, Sink said, nearly 4,000 families with nearly 8,700 children have asked for help. That’s a record, and nearly 900 more children than last year.

At the collection center in a former grocery store at 2116 New Bern Ave., toys were piling up on Tuesday, and Sink said she hoped there would be enough for all the parents on the list to choose at least one toy for each child.

“We’re struggling for gifts for older children, through,” she said.

Where once stood shelves of foodstuffs are now rows of boxes, each marked with a number and a family name, and a list of children: Juliann, Girl, 4; Joshua, Boy, 7; Cesar, Boy, 11.

With elfin efficiency, volunteers sort donations, putting Angel Tree items into the appropriate family boxes and toys into piles for girls, boys and babies. Later this week, the toys will be sorted further by age group and laid out in the “toy shop,” where parents will be able to choose the ones they want for their children.

It’s a variation on work the Salvation Army has done in Wake County for 125 years.

It gets help from other organizations, office toy drives, parents who can’t stand the thought of someone else’s child going without, and from people who don’t have children but remember what it was like to be one.

“I’ve always had everything I need, and beyond,” said Pat Rogers, who came from Apex to deliver a bag of stuffed animals she won at this year’s N.C. State Fair.

Mary Ann Peterson, a real estate broker and member of the Capital City Clauses, made a run to drop off another box of toys her group had collected, including Hot Wheels, LEGOs and a Strawberry Shortcake football.

“To think of little people not getting anything for Christmas is just heartbreaking,” she said. “That’s tough.”

The Salvation Army’s collection center at 2116 New Bern Ave. will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Saturday. Registered families will pick up their gifts Dec. 18-20. The Salvation Army is one of the local charities listed on The News & Observer’s Holiday Guide to Giving at nando.com/holidaygiving.

Quillin: 919-829-8989

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