PARKERSBURG - Thanks to the generosity of the community, about 3,000 children in the region will have a good Christmas as the Salvation Army Parkersburg Corps Thursday morning distributed donated items through its annual Angel Tree program.
"This is just amazing," said Jim Maley, co-chairman for the Thanksgiving-Christmas committee. "Today is the grand finale for everything we have been working on."
This year there are about 3,000 children from 1,600 families in the organization's coverage area of Wood, Calhoun, Jackson, Ritchie, Wirt and Pleasants counties. Of those, 492 families are from Wood County.
Photo by Jolene Craig
Volunteers carry bags of toys and bicycles to cars for families on Thursday morning during the annual Salvation Army of Parkersburg Corps toy distribution.
The gymnasium at the Salvation Army on Fifth Street was filled Thursday with bags of clothes, toys and games separated for each family. The meeting room in the basement was filled with dozens of bicycles for boys and girls for all ages and sizes.
"Christmas is about giving and being able to give to those around you," said volunteer Corrina Moore of Parkersburg. "This is my third year volunteering for this distribution and it wouldn't be Christmas without being here."
This was the first year for Ida McGrail of Parkersburg to volunteer distributing the donated items.
"I didn't realize the community was so generous," she said. "This is my first year, but won't be my last."
Moore said she decided to volunteer two years ago because she was having a difficult time getting into the Christmas spirit.
"Now this means Christmas to me," she said. "It wouldn't be Christmas if I weren't here helping out."
The food baskets and toys distributed at Fifth Street were only for the families residing in Wood County and does not include the gifts and food for the families in the other five counties the organization covers, said Maley.
Maley said the number of families who received Christmas aid from the Salvation Army was down a little this year.
"But the generosity of the community has soared," he said. "I've been doing this since 1976 and I don't think I've ever seen so many gifts; our community is amazing and we are truly blessed to have them."
Lt. Mechelle Henry of the Salvation Army said the toy giveaway and food baskets are fulfilling Salvation Army founder William Booth's goal for the organization.
"This is what the Salvation Army is all about," she said. "We are bringing happiness and Christmas to people who otherwise wouldn't have the ability to celebrate."