RALEIGH — In a year of record demand, the Salvation Armys 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 childrens names arent 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. Thats 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.
Were 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.
Its 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 cant stand the thought of someone elses child going without, and from people who dont have children but remember what it was like to be one.
Ive 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 years 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. Thats tough.
The Salvation Armys 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 & Observers Holiday Guide to Giving at nando.com/holidaygiving.