Tables of toys, rows of bicycles, mountains of clothes and hundreds of grocery bags filled the Salvation Army’s Center of Hope in New Albany Saturday morning as thousands of local families in need gathered items to make their otherwise dismal holidays much merrier.
The Salvation Army — with the help of several local organizations — provided Christmas dinners for about 1,200 families and gifts for 4,475 angels on the Salvation Army Angel Tree, according to Roxanne Haley, the local Salvation Army’s Business Administrator. The Center of Hope reaches out to six counties in Southern Indiana.
Although John Peyton does enjoy watching his grandchildren open their presents on Christmas day, he admits distribution day at the Salvation Army is his favorite day of the year. A retired Master Sergeant with the United States Marine Corp, Peyton has been volunteering with Toys for Tots for seven years.
This year, the local chapter of Toys for Tots has collected nearly 14,000 toys for needy children in the area, ensuring that all angels on the Salvation Army Angel Tree have gifts to unwrap Christmas morning.
“We want to give that child a toy and let that child know that someone cares,” said Peyton. “Kids light up like little Christmas trees when they walk in.”
The Southern Hoosier Hills chapter of the National Turkey Federation provided 235 families with frozen turkeys for their Christmas dinners. The organization works closely with the Salvation Army and the New Albany Housing Authority to determine need. Kroger provides the hunters — who donate their own money to the project — with a generous discount for the turkeys.
John Moody, Chairperson of Turkey Hunters Care, said this year has been the worst yet in terms of need. In response to the great increase of families in need of a warm meal, Moody said the group plans to expand and help provide meals to families on a weekly basis at local churches.
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