Salvation Army Distributes Toys from the Magical Christmas Toy Drive

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Two Salvation Army volunteers try to decide where the next cart of toys will go.

The toys collected from the Alabama News Network’s Magical Christmas Toy Drive went to their new homes the Tuesday before Christmas.

Hundreds of people lined up outside the Salvation Army’s distribution center on Eastern Boulevard to recieve the toys and food. Salvation Army Core Leader Major Walter Strong says the process to apply for the giveaway starts at least six months before December, and families just have to prove their income level and the number of children they have to recieve the holiday help.

He says about 500 families were helped this year, and they recieved new toys, including bikes and electronics and all the food needed for a full Christmas dinner.

The toys were placed in plastic bags labelled with the family’s assigned number and a letter for each child in that family. For example, a family might be number 113 in line and have two children. Each child would recieve their own bag labelled with either 113A or 113B.

“It could be anywhere from A to C to D or E, however many children are in a family,” says Strong. “And the food boxes are all the same. Just the larger sized families will get two boxes instead of one box.”

Consetta Goldsmith is a mother of five under the age of 12, including her one-year-old twins. She says she wouldn’t be able to give her kids a “real Christmas” without the Salvation Army’s help.

“A big help off of me, a very big help off of me,” she says. “I’m struggling a little bit. [My kids] don’t know that. That’s what it’s all about, is seeing the kids happy. I just be thankful, you know? That’s all we can be. And just look forward for the best.”

The volunteers start preparing for this giveaway during the summer. They face many long nights and days bagging and organizing the toys, but say it’s all worth it to give someone a Merry Christmas.

“For the most part, the overwhelming satisfaction we get when clients walk out of here like, ‘wow! I can’t believe I get all this!'” says Strong. “Not only that, the volunteers. You can look around here and see all these volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to do it without all these volunteers.”

There is still time to give back to the Salvation Army, even though the Magical Christmas Toy Drive is over. Bell ringers and their famous red kettles will be out and accepting donations until Christmas Eve.

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