Salvation Army helps 13,000 families get Christmas gifts

CREATED Dec 14, 2013 - UPDATED: Dec 14, 2013

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FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Salvation Army cut the ribbon on its Christmas Cheer Warehouse Saturday, inviting families in need to come collect donated toys for Christmas.

The warehouse provides toys, stockings and other Christmas gifts to more than 13,000 in Fort Myers who pre-registered, like mom Jessica Hellings.

"I am a single mom now so it doesn't get to add up the way it used to," Hellings said. "We make it more memorable by doing family stuff and teach them it's not about the gifts, but its still nice to give them."

The toys were all donated to the Salvation Army in conjunction with the Toys for Tots Program.

The people who know and enjoy Christmas the most are the ones who give and giving will put anybody into the Christmas spirit," Salvation Army Area Coordinator Major Tom Lourden said.

Mom Greselda Casiano knows first hand how important that Christmas spirit is. Because of the community's generosity, her two children will have their first Christmas ever.

"I wanted to get them everything! Everything I see!" Casiano said.

"Probably the greatest experience that any human being can have is giving the gift of hope and when people come through these doors and they see what's here for them, that they could not have asked for or imagined and the hope comes right through their face," Lourden said.

And hopefully that hope will carry on into their children's faces, when they find out what Santa brought them.

"They are going to be thrilled, especially with the cool present they just got, they are going to be so happy," Hellings said.


You can donate toys until December 19 at any Salvation Army location, Chick-fil-A, Bells, Bells Outlet or Walgreen's store.

You can also make a monetary donation for the Salvation Army's Red Kettle Program when you see the bell ringers around the community. The Program is currently 12% behind this year's goal.

The Christmas Cheer Warehouse is located at 3048 Metro Parkway and will be open to registered families on December 16, 17, 19 and 20 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.