Valdosta Salvation Army distributes thousands of toys -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Valdosta Salvation Army distributes thousands of toys

By Jade Bulecza - bio | email

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) –The holidays can be an especially tough time for families struggling financially during the recession.

The Salvation Army is there to help.

In Valdosta on Monday, they handed out thousands of gifts for children who otherwise wouldn't have much Christmas joy.

Thousands of gifts were piled high inside the Salvation Army as families waited in lines outside to get toys for their children.

"It puts a big smile on their face," said Barbara Calhoun.

Calhoun has two young children.

"They're going to be gifts from an angel," said Calhoun. "Just somebody, I can't say Santa Claus but it's gonna be a gift from an angel."

The toy drive was done a little differently this year.

"There are six clients every six minutes," said Salvation Army Capt. Monica Nickum.

Applicants were assigned appointment times.

"We also stopped doing an income limit on our applications," said Capt. Nickum. "Instead we took your income. We took your expenses and subtracted and whether or not you qualified, depended on how much is left to by gifts with."

She says if the parents are in debt they don't want the kids to suffer.

"The first batch of toys that we worked with were from Walmart that we purchased through the Empty Stocking Fund which is run by the Valdosta Daily Times and Guardian Bank," said Capt. Nickum. "We purchased $35,000 worth of toys."

She says when those toys started running out, the bike ride came just in time to replenish them.

Many of the toys here came from the Outback Riders Toy Ride over the weekend. More than 2,200 bikers participated, bringing in thousands of toys.

Kristin Brantley has been volunteering at the Salvation Army for 12 years.

"This toy drive has been larger than any other year," said Brantley.

She says last year they served 800 kids and this year, the number has increased to about 1,800.

The Salvation Army will give out every toy that was donated this year to make sure as many kids as possible have a Merry Christmas.

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