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Salvation Army gives Christmas toys to legions of children

Posted December 18, 2008

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— The parents of more than 4,500 children will place toys underneath the Christmas tree this year, courtesy of the Salvation Army.

Hundreds of parents stood in lines outside the Salvation Army Community Center on Wake Forest Road Thursday, waiting for a chance to browse through the donated toys in the center. Some parents arrived as early as 4 a.m. to get in line.

When the two-day giveaway is over, nearly 2,000 families, with over 4,500 children, will have received toys – 800 more children than last year and a record high, Salvation Army officials said.

"We've never (had) 4,000. For us to even get in the 4,500 range – and we're kind of tapping closer to the 5,000 range – that's a huge number for us," spokeswoman Paige Bagwell said.

While picking out toys for her children, Elizabeth Hall, of Raleigh, said that economic struggles had put her in a very different position than in past years.

"Every year since I've been little, it's been a family tradition that we've given to the Salvation Army," Hall said. "Unfortunately, this year, I'm in line."

Those donated toys make it possible for many families to have a Christmas – something that many parents was increasingly difficult this year.

"This is important because of people losing their jobs and getting laid off and just needing a little help," Angela Banks, of Raleigh, said.

Banks was willing to wait nearly an hour to pick out some toys to give to her son.

"Times are hard. Even though I still have a job, times are still hard," she said.

A donation from Bailey's Jewelry of Raleigh will ensure that some teenage girls will get a special treat – 50 pearl necklaces and 50 pearl bracelets. The jewelry will be handed out Friday afternoon.

Economic woes have put more demand on The Salvation Army's services, but cash donations at their easily recognizable, red kettles have been down. The charity has relied more on corporate sponsors, including Fidelity Investments, which came through big for it, Bagwell said.

Although cash donations have been down, individuals have found other ways to give, she said.

"People are having a harder time writing that check and questioning where that money's going," Bagwell said. "They like to see: This is a toy, and this is going to a child that needs it. Or this is a coat, and this is going to a child that needs warm clothing."

Hall expressed gratitude for the donated toys and hope that she'll be able to give back.

"A lot of people gave a lot of stuff for us to be here. Hopefully, next year, I'll be on the other side again," she said.

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  • turtledove Dec 18, 2008

    Don't celebrate Christmas. Problem Solved!!

  • dshell99 Dec 18, 2008

    there are rules on who gets what. you have to show that you're in need. instead of just ASSuming that this is some free hand out, why don't you go down and volunteer and see how the whole process works. i've been on both sides of the salvation army fence and i'm glad they're there. please do some research before commenting. otherwise you look REALLY stupid!

  • shellbelle Dec 18, 2008

    It's nice that these options are out there for people in need.

  • toobad Dec 18, 2008

    Too many parents spend money on themselves knowing they can get free clothes and toys for their children. There needs to be regulation to the handouts.

  • TeresaBee Dec 18, 2008

    Raptor... I doubt anyone stood online at 4am to get a toy to sell on ebay. How much did you give to Salvation Army this year?>
    It is sad to see such long lines. We say Merry Christmas but in truth it is stressful and sad for so many.
    It would be nice if we just had to get a birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.

  • raptor101 Dec 18, 2008

    So, there is no way to validate need? they just show up and get free stuff? Probably put it on e-bay same day

  • uncalumni02 Dec 18, 2008

    I love volunteering with the Salvation Army. The employees are nice and the recipients seem appreciative for what you're able to do.

  • Adelinthe Dec 18, 2008

    They do indeed do good work, in the name of God.

    I always give a little something, even if it's just change. They're so dedicated and are even out there with their kettles in the worst of weather.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • whatelseisnew Dec 18, 2008

    The Salvation Army does good work. Put a little something in one their kettle's just yesterday.