By: Courtney Harrington
Thanksgiving has come and gone, and people around the area are already getting into the Christmas spirit. Radio stations are changing over to traditional festive tunes and decorations are popping up left and right. With Christmas now less than a month away, the Salvation Army is here again to make the holiday special for those who are less fortunate.
For many years now, the Salvation Army has made it their goal to give low-income families a miracle for Christmas. This year alone, around 14,000 children will be able to receive a special gift this holiday season that they usually would not have the opportunity to get. Through thousands upon thousands of donations, the Salvation Army is fortunate enough to supply parents with gifts to give their children. Todd Hawks, the leader of the agency, is all too familiar with the program.
When Hawks was a child himself, he was one of many children who received Christmas toys through the Salvation Army. He was one of four boys in his family, and his parents made just enough money to hardly get by with buying necessities. His family got assistance from a similar program for two years.
Still to this day, Hawk still has the gifts he received from the Salvation Army: gloves, a sweatshirt and hard candy. According to Lt. Mark Bell, Hawk was a rebellious child and very rowdy. However, after spending time with Bell, Hawk was inspired to commit to the Salvation Army at the age of 18 years old. Since committing, he has worked with the agency in eight different states across the nation.
This year, unfortunately, the Salvation Army does not have the $2 million needed in order to pull over the annual Christmas program. With such an intimidating factor at hand, the agency is looking for any donations possible. They ask for donors to adopt families this holiday season for help, or to simply donate money so that the agency can stock up on toys for the children.
With the program underway, around 3,000 volunteers have agreed to give up their free time to devote their attention to passing out toys to children for five days in mid-December. This year, they are expecting a record breaking number in the amount of children receiving the donated gifts.
If everything falls into place as planned, the Salvation Army will start passing out presents to parents on December 16 in an old Walmart building on Arrowood Road in Charlotte. With every hour that passes, 200 families will get their individual gifts for his/her family. While this is taking place, children will not be allowed inside the building to preserve the Christmas joy and excitement of the unknown.
“My mom was a hardworking, proud woman, and it was difficult for her to ask for help, but the needs of her kids came first,” Hawk expressed. “That’s why I want to make sure all the parents who come to us for help have a chance to leave with their dignity and their pride intact.”