The Salvation Army Kroc Center invited needy families to choose donated gifts for children of all ages at their annual toy shop. The Salvation Army has provided Christmas assistance for families for more than 100 years. For the first time, however, the shop set up this week on Harrison Avenue in Camden.
Volunteers assisted parents, grandparents and guardians in selecting toys for the children in their lives. Each child gets a large toy and stocking stuffers, and each family receives a game and a gift card. Six-year volunteer Josephine Morton said the experience reminded her of how fortunate her family was. As she spoke, she arranged soft toys, stopping to tickle her favorite: a laughing Disney Goofy doll. She’s often touched by the stories she hears from families.
On Tuesday, for example, Morton helped the grandmother of six-year-old twin boys. The woman asked for bicycles, which are usually reserved for families with only a single child. But Morton found two available bikes, and they were identical. Each came with a helmet, one blue and one red, and both Morton and the grandmother got a “little misty” when the woman shared that these were indeed the favorite colors of the boys. Morton says she knows why people donate, “Because it brings us joy to give,” she said.
Joe Nardi is on the Advisory Board at the Kroc Center, and he and his children are volunteers. Like Morton, he realized how lucky he and his huge family were. He said that many of the shoppers are overwhelmed with joy, and seeing that makes his holiday celebration much more meaningful.
Sheena Santiago’s eyes lit up when she saw a “Baby Alive” among the dolls. “My daughter asked for this!” she said. Santiago is a Camden mom of two daughters, 1 and 5, and describes them as “little old ladies.” She’s looking forward to spending the holiday with them and is grateful to be able to give them something.