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Salvation Army hopes toy drive scores

The list of children needing Christmas presents is growing.

So far this year, 417 children have signed up to receive toys from the Kittanning Salvation Army compared to 386 total last year, said Captain Pam Rhodes. She expects the list to grow as a month remains for sign-ups.

“We’re trying to get enough toys to take care of the kids we have on our Christmas list this year,” said Captain David Rhodes. “Our list is a lot bigger than it was last year.”

The Salvation Army is holding a toy drive Thursday night at the Belmont Complex in hopes that generous hockey fans will donate new, unwrapped toys at the Ford City and Kittanning games. Toys for children ranging in age from newborns to 13-year-olds will be accepted.

Infants and teens are the most neglected age groups, Pam Rhodes said.

“The teenager is absolutely the hardest,” she said.

Farmers & Merchants Bank donated warehouse space in Kittanning to the Salvation Army for use through the Christmas season, David Rhodes said. The building will be used to store, sort and distribute anything being provided to local families for Christmas.

“The Christmas program that we run has out-spaced this building,” Pam Rhodes said of the current space along North Jefferson Street.

In addition to the toy drive, tags with suggested toys will be placed on trees throughout the area for community members to purchase and donate. It is an annual Salvation Army tradition and the trees will be at King’s, Valley Dairy, Kittanning Public Library, S&T Bank in Foodland, Farmers & Merchants Bank, Rosebud Mining, Wal-Mart and Olsen Chiropractic.

Because not every tag results in toys, they said the toy drive could help make up the difference and cover any additional children who sign up within the next month.

Families who register with the Salvation Army receive toys for children in the family and a holiday meal provided through Operation Santa Claus and the Kittanning Masons organization. The captains attributed the increase in needy children this year to a stagnant economy for those with and without jobs.

“The working poor demographic has exploded,” Pam Rhodes said.

Red Kettle campaign

Bells are ringing at five Red Kettle locations throughout the area — Foodland, Big Lots, Sprankle’s, Shop n Save and Walmart. This year’s goal is $25,000, up $5,000 from last year. The goal was met last year.

Donations from the Red Kettle program and around Christmastime amount to about half of the Salvation Army’s operating budget.


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