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Christmas Cheer Club back to aid needy Mon Valley kids

Tribune-Review
| Wednesday, November 26, 2014 7:53 p.m.
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Jim Ference / Trib Total Media
Ryan Buckley, 2, the son of Tom and Crystal Buckley of Forward, meets Santa Claus as he becomes the first member of The Valley Independent's 2014 Christmas Cheer Club. The Christmas Cheer Club benefits The Salvation Army's Mon Valley Citadel based in Monessen.

‘Tis the season for holiday cheer and spending time with family and friends as the countdown to Christmas is officially under way at The Valley Independent.

And once again, we will ring in the holidays with the Christmas Cheer Club – a way Mon Valley residents can brighten the lives of needy area families on Christmas morning.

And we need your help more than ever.

The club benefits the annual toy drive of The Salvation Army’s Mon Valley Citadel.

Lt. Joel Thwaite and his wife, Lt. Susan Thwaite, leaders of the Monessen-based Salvation Army unit, said the organization will serve more than 200 Mon Valley families this holiday season, including about 650 children registered for the toy drive.

Susan Thwaite said the Christmas Cheer Club is crucial to the citadel toy drive’s success.

Thwaite said that through generous donations by Mon Valley residents to the Christmas Cheer Club, the Salvation Army is able to give each needy child a minimum of three gifts.

The Salvation Army is accepting donations for young children and teenagers through age 18 who are enrolled in school.

Thwaite said many teenagers are overlooked on the holidays.

“Teens need to know someone loves and cares about them,” she said. “It goes a long way in the life of a teenager to know that someone cares.”

She said some affordable ideas for teen gifts are bath and body products, hoodies and school supplies.

Thwaite said the Salvation Army sees an increase annually in the number of families seeking assistance – and not just during the holidays.

The Salvation Army supports programs for children throughout the year such as scouting for elementary–aged girls and boys, teen after–school programs, field trips and summer–feeding programs. The organization provides year-round emergency assistance and other programs to help low–income families.

Thwaite said some families wait until the last minute to seek help with Christmas gifts for their children.

“What the Cheer Club does is allow us to help as many children as we can to make sure they all have something Christmas morning,” Thwaite said.

The Christmas Cheer Club has been a holiday mainstay at The Valley Independent for 27 years and has helped brighten Christmas morning for thousands of children in Mon Valley neighborhoods.

“We’re thrilled to sponsor the Christmas Cheer Club again this year,” said Robert Burke, managing editor of The Valley Independent. “Not only does the club help make the holiday season a little brighter for some local boys and girls, but it provides The Valley Independent with yet another way to help the communities we are proud to serve.”

Keeping with tradition, those who contribute to the Christmas Cheer Club will have their photos published in The Valley Independent.

Joining the Christmas Cheer Club is easy.

Families and individuals are asked to purchase new gifts, each with a minimum value of $5, and bring them to The Valley Independent office at Eastgate 19 in Monessen.

Donors may leave their unwrapped gifts under our Christmas tree, sign the Cheer Club membership book and place their names on the tree.

Donations may be dropped off 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays through Dec. 22.

The gifts will be picked up by the Salvation Army and distributed in time for Christmas.

For information about the Salvation Army or to donate directly, call 724- 684-4282.

Stacy Wolford is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-684-2640 or at swolford@tribweb.com.

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