Special Reports

Salvation Army hopes to have toys for 250 ‘angels’

MANATEE — A mountain of toys collected during the Salvation Army’s annual Angel Tree drive is being sorted and prepared for distribution to almost 2,500 children.

But just a few scant days before the Salvation Army begins distributing those toys, it finds itself short of being able to provide a gift to about 250 children registered for the program.

Families register for the program in October, and must submit to an interview and substantiate that family income is below the poverty level.

Maj. Robert Parker, the Salvation Army’s area coordinator, put out a last-minute appeal Monday for toys to close the gap.

It isn’t until all the Angel Trees are collected throughout the community before the Salvation Army knows if it has enough toys to provide a gift for each child registered for the program.

In some cases, angels — children — haven’t been selected from the trees, and in other cases, an angel was selected, but the prospective toy donor failed to purchase and deliver a toy.

“At Christmas you want every child to have a toy and a wonderful memory of Christmas day that they will remember the rest of their lives,” Parker said.

Manatee residents always respond generously to the Angel Tree program.

“Our gym is packed full of toys. We see everything from dolls to clothes and video games. It is amazing how much effort people go to, to pur- chase those toys,” Parker said.

Ed Wickman, shelter manager for the Salvation Army, was helping organize the packaging of the toys Monday.

Parents, 100 an hour, will pick up the toys Thursday or Monday, depending on their appointment time, Wickman said.

Anyone who would like to help out may bring a new toy for children up to the age of 12 to the Salvation Army’s facility at 1204 14th St. W. or to 5328 24th St. E., just off State Road 70.

For more information, call 748-5110.