The Salvation Army Christmas hampers have long provided a sense of relief and comfort for families during tough times.
Not only are they filled with fixings for a nice meal, but toys as well.
For the last eight years, the Sally Ann Toy Shop at the Salvation Army has been a place where families in need of a little extra help can come pick out gifts for their kids to open on Christmas.
“Any children that they have – 14 and under – they come up and they meet one of our volunteers who takes them around and shows them items that would be appropriate in that age and they can select something that might be of interest to their child,” said Laurie Sauder, a Salvation Army corps officer.
The toy shop is stocked with thousands of items including games, books, and clothing, and parents can select a main gift, stocking-stuffer and a plush toy.
“As a parent, to know what you’re opening or having your child open on Christmas morning – and having an opportunity to select it – makes it like a normal experience that parents have,” Sauder said.
This wasn’t always the case, however. In the past, hampers were often packed prior to being handed out.
Sauder has seen first-hand just what it means for families to be involved.
“People are gracious – they’re overwhelmed by the selection and what to choose,” she said.
“A very common response – ‘really!? All of this choice?! Can I really have this one?!’ Those are expressions I think of people’s overwhelming response to the generosity of the community.”
That generosity is ultimately the reason the toy shop has so much to offer.
“They come through donations from the public, as well as the funding that’s provided in our Christmas kettle campaign – we purchase those areas where we might be low.”
A community effort to bring joy to kids on Christmas.