Salvation Army holds annual toy distribution

Salvation Arm Gifts

Donnisha Crosland had the joy of the season in her smile Tuesday morning, as she loaded her trunk with bags of hats, scarves and toys for her sons.

Aged 7, 6 and 5, they’ll have a lively Christmas morning, thanks to the generosity of those who donated to The Salvation Army where, this week, hundreds of families went home with gifts and groceries.

“This helps so much. It helps a lot. Trust me,” said Crosland, of Nanticoke, as a volunteer at the annual pick-up day who was helping her to the car gently handed her a dozen eggs.

“They gave us food, too. I’m a single mom. All I have is money for bills,” she said.

Nearby, Salvation Army volunteer Susan Drye waited with a filled shopping cart as the mother of two girls, aged 6 and 2, retrieved her car, to be loaded.

“They get puzzles, books, Legos. These two girls are each getting a bike,” Drye said, explaining community residents  donate through the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program, separate from the well-known Red Kettle Campaign.

Drye, who spent 24 hours last week and about 16 this week helping, said recipients are gratified.

“Some of them are so overwhelmed with everything they get. They say, ‘Thank God for you.’ Sometimes they are just flabbergasted,” she said.

Teara Tenner, an employee, said she has a special fondness for the holiday event.

“It’s awesome. A lot of people are so happy and thankful.  Some of them are so surprised,” she said.

Drye agreed.

“It’s the best part of my Christmas. It makes me grateful for what I have and more aware of what I have,” she said.

Inside, Major Vic Tidman was offering inspirational words to women and men who arrived to gather donated packages. As they sat on folding chairs, he recalled being a boy eager to know what he was getting for Christmas.

He’d shake the packages, smell them, search for a tiny flap of open wrapper paper, he said, smiling gently, and encouraging them to remember the true meaning of Christmas.

To become more spiritual, he advised, they should read the Bible and attend church. Some of them nodded. All listened intently.

In the gym, tables spilled over with toys – soccer balls and footballs, dump trucks, stuffed bears, Barbies, tool sets, a stack of four Candy Land board games, Monopoly, a play kitchen set and baby dolls.

Behind them were mesh bags filled with fresh apples and oranges, and other edibles.

Ready to assist was 10-year Salvation Army employee Elaine Price.

“It makes me feel great to help these people. It helps me remember the reason for the season. I know people get carried away with gifts, but I enjoy seeing how happy we make people, because when times are hard children don’t always understand that,” she said.

Tidman, taking a quick break between delivering messages, greeted guests and said he was pleased with how smoothly the day was going.

“This year, we helped over 700 families and over 1,000 children. Perdue donated 1,000 chickens to give away in all three counties, Wicomico, Worcester and Somerset,” Tidman said.

Recipients started arriving at 9 a.m. Monday and continued until around noon Tuesday. On Monday, one chuckling volunteer called the day “merry bedlam.”

“Everybody is in a good mood. We’ve got lots of volunteers. This is the happiest time for me,” a cheerful Tidman said.

A woman wearing a purple fleece jacket against the damp  Tuesday morning air walked to her car, praising the program.

“I’m unemployed and I have three kids, 14, 8 and my daughter is almost 3. Daddy don’t help and Mom isn’t working. I thank God for this,” she said, smiling broadly.

“Without this, we wouldn’t even have Christmas.”

 

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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