Christmas will be merry indeed for about 3,000 Manatee County children thanks to the generous donations from the public to the Salvation Army’s Adopt-A-Family program.
On Wednesday, dozens of volunteers began distributing the toys to qualified families who would otherwise not be able to afford to provide a memorable Christmas for their children.
“The Salvation Army is just the conduit between the giving and the receiving,” said Manatee County Salvation Army Maj. Dwayne Durham. “It’s very much a blessing and we are very appreciative of this generous community, who thanks to them are helping to bless these families and children.”
Hundreds of large boxes filled with a variety of toys and games packed the distribution center as parents began rolling into the Bradenton-Sarasota Commerce Center on Wednesday. Director of Communications Kelly French said the response from the families has been very rewarding.
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We have a very generous community and it’s absolutely fantastic.
Kelly French, Manatee County Salvation Army director of communications
“I get a little teary-eyed just talking about it,” French said. “I had a single mom come in with two kids and she works full time, but with rising prices on various goods, she just didn’t have the money to buy presents. We have a very generous community, and it’s absolutely fantastic. For me personally, it makes me feel good and excited.”
French said every one of the 600 families were adopted this year even though the community’s need was higher than previous years. French said donations also were stronger this year to help meet that need.
She noted that in today’s environment, people can be skeptical about giving, “because there are some who try to take advantage of the system. But it’s important to know that these families go through a qualification process and once selected, can’t double dip into other programs.”
French said donations coming into the annual bell ringer campaign also are looking strong. That program helps fund the Salvation Army’s other programs, because as Durham said, “giving doesn’t stop at Christmas.”
On Dec. 26, the Salvation Army continues its mission 24 hours a day, 365 days a week so it’s very important that everyone remember that the need doesn’t end after Christmas.
Manatee County Salvation Army Major Dwayne Durham
French said all donations collected in Manatee County remains in the county to serve its residents in need. Durham said the Salvation Army relies on the campaign for the agency’s shelter for the homeless, veterans program, post-incarceration release program and its nightly community meal where volunteers serve about 250 local people a day.
“The giving season doesn’t end on Dec. 25,” Durham said. “On Dec. 26, the Salvation Army continues its mission 24 hours a day, 365 days a week so it’s very important that everyone remember that the need doesn’t end after Christmas.”