LEE CO., Fla. — The holiday season is fast approaching and some people will be looking to share some joy through a toy.
The Salvation Army is providing a happy holiday for those families in need. But between the pandemic and supply shortages, they are in need of some extra help this year.
"Every year the need is great but the ones that were living check-to-check last year, now, that check is not sufficient," says Major Charlotte Gargis, with the Salvation Army of Lee County.
The Salvation Army of Lee County is helping thousands of children and their families during the holidays with their Angel Tree. Through the program, you can essentially “adopt” an angel or family and donate the requested clothes or toys. This year, however, has been a little tough.
"They’re having to choose between either putting gas in the car or paying a utility bill or putting food on the table or provide Christmas," said Gargis. "So we don’t want them to have to miss out. Every child should be provided Christmas- we don’t want any child to be forgotten this year.”
Those with the Salvation Army say they are seeing more families this year compared to last. They are still accepting volunteers at this time. Volunteers like Ruth Oleksa and her husband who have been helping out the last ten years.
Ruth oleksa, volunteer with salvation army of lee county: “they’re usually very excited, they open up the packages and the bags that we have the toys in. They’re very appreciative and thankful.”
The couple have backgrounds in social work. She says it’s the amount of joy and happiness that the event brings that keeps them coming back year after year.
Oleska: “it takes a long time and a lot of people. There’s not much happening now but it’ll be crazy in a few weeks.”
And new this year are ways to help give back.
Gargis: “the beautiful thing this year is walmart has a registry where you can go online and buy toys and have them shipped directly to us so you don’t even have to go into the chaos.”
And if you’re donating a gift…. The only thing they ask is you return it by december 3rd. Doing so will give them enough time to sort through those items for families.
You can find more information about this year's Angel Tree as well as how to donate or volunteer when you visit the Salvation Army's website right here.