PARKERSBURG - In order to help all of the children who deserve the best Christmas possible, the Salvation Army of Parkersburg Corps has teamed up with area Wal-Mart stores to hold a toy drive on Saturday.
"We will be at three participating Wal-Mart stores with our buses to collect donated toys," said Lt. Erik Henry with the local corps.
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., more than 2,500 Wal-Mart stores throughout the country will participate in the "Fill the Truck" toy drive to allow the Salvation Army to help provide a cheerful Christmas for local children.
The three local stores participating with the Parkersburg Corps will be the locations in Vienna, south Parkersburg and Ripley.
Shoppers to those stores will be handed a flier listing the recommended toys and coats of children with their Christmas wishes on Angel Tree cards throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley, Henry said.
A lot of community members want to help but are not able to completely sponsor a child or a family of children for the holiday, he said.
"This is one way people can help give little Johnny or Suzie the Christmas they want and deserve," Henry said.
The local organization is expecting to provide Christmas for about 700 families that includes about 4,000 children throughout the Salvation Army's coverage region in Wood, Calhoun, Jackson, Ritchie, Wirt and Pleasants counties.
While the majority of the roughly 4,000 children on the Angel Trees are adopted by local individuals, families and groups, many are not.
"No matter what, every child who has a card at the Salvation Army will have a Christmas," Henry said. "We will buy what we can for the children left, but we look to the community to help us with that."
Another way for the community to help is by donating to the red kettles, at about two dozen store entrances throughout the area.
This year's drive began on Nov. 9, in time for Veterans Day and will be out at stores across the area until Christmas Eve. Henry said the goal for the campaign is $165,000.
"I think our goal is reachable," Henry said. "We have so far raised $57,000, which is up about $3,500 from last year at this time."
Last year's red kettles and holiday mail drive collected $154,000 for the local organization to provide food, clothing, toys and other assistance to those in need.
While the iconic red kettles solicit spare change donations from holiday shoppers, the majority of the funds come from the mail appeal with nearly $19,000 coming during the Thanksgiving drive. More than $35,000 has been donated by the Christmas appeal.
"We think the community is really stepping up to help one another," Henry said. "We want everyone to know that whatever you give to the Salvation Army, you get back in a change to the community."