Captain Tracey Walters, of the Niles Salvation Army, and Helen Britton work through stacks of applications from families within the community in need of assistance this holiday season. (Daily Star Photo/JESSICA SIEFF)
Captain Tracey Walters, of the Niles Salvation Army, and Helen Britton work through stacks of applications from families within the community in need of assistance this holiday season. (Daily Star Photo/JESSICA SIEFF)

Archived Story

Concerns loom for holiday donation drives

Published 10:30am Tuesday, December 8, 2009

By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star

The deadline for sign-up for the Salvation Army services that aid families in need around the holiday season has come and gone.

Through the organization, countless families will receive aid through the Salvation Army’s Adopt-A-Family program and their Christmas Toy Shop.

But the deadline for Christmas itself, is looming and organizers at the Salvation Army are hoping that with the help of the community, there will be plenty of toys to supply the need this Christmas.

“There are quite a few boxes around town,” Captain Tracey Walters said. “We just don’t know what to expect.”

So far, donations have trickled in, but numbers are still far from what the Salvation Army expects to need this year, with the number of those needing assistance on a constant rise.

Walters said the Salvation Army served a total of 234 families last year. That number has risen to 352 just for the toy shop alone.

“Last year, we had about 600 children that we saw,” Walters said. “We’re at about 870 children” so far.
“We’re seeing a lot larger families this year,” she added.

The community can help out in a number of ways, Walters said. A book drive is currently being held through the Niles District Library and donations of brand new toys or clothing are accepted at the Salvation Army any time.

An estimated 4,800 toys were collected last year.

With the economy still concerning many consumers, organizations like the Salvation Army are concerned about just how much they will see in donations to their seasonal drives.

“We know the economy is hard even for people not seeking assistance,” Walters said.

Numbers are up not only because of economic factors, Walters said. For its part, Niles’ Salvation Army serves those in need in Cass County and Buchanan as well.

“We want to make sure that folks know their neighbor is not just the person who lives next door to them,” Walters said, but the members of their community who are struggling and in need of help.
Right now, she said, the Army is in need of everything from new toys, games, books and clothing to stocking stuffers and items for young adults.

There’s still time to get donations in before the holiday and Walters added she hopes to see the message spread to “reach past these borders and help people.”

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