Salvation Army gives out Christmas gifts

Published 7:27 pm Wednesday, December 13, 2017

On Wednesday, more than a hundred parents were able to pick up presents for their children from the Salvation Army distribution point.

Every year, the Salvation Army carefully screens families to find those in most need of assistance, and this year the charity was able to gather gifts for hundreds of local families through the assistance of Toys for Tots, Angel Trees and other donations. Volunteers have spent weeks gathering and organizing donations for the event, which allowed many parents to pick up Christmas gifts on Wednesday.

“There are children who are in need in every community and that is what the Salvation Army tries to do is step in and buffer in between the need and getting to the people who can actually help,” said Susie Chitwood, who is over the Salvation Army in Troup County. “It is not just an individual thing trying to find somebody.”

Many groups assisted with the annual event including the Troup County Sheriff’s Office who volunteered time to help gather donations with Toys for Tots and to help disperse the toys with the Salvation Army.

“We are so excited to be over here helping with this very worthy cause,” Sheriff James Woodruff said. “I just think it is a great thing that they do for the citizens of our community.”

TCSO has participated in Toys for Tots events for several years, and the volunteers were enthusiastic in their assistance.

“Any time we are asked to volunteer with Toys for Tots or the Salvation Army it is certainly something that we jump to do,” said Sgt. Stewart Smith of TCSO. “Any time that we can help the less fortunate and kind of make a difference in them in their lives, this is something that we certainly enjoy doing to lend these people a hand as well today.”

Officials from the City of West Point also assisted parents in picking up the toys.

“We’ve been doing this for years with the police department, and it is almost a tradition for us,” West Point Mayor Steve Tramell said. “Everybody loves to help out. Any time we ask for help in West Point we get a flood of volunteers.”

The actual dispersal point was in LaGrange, but families from throughout Troup County were served by the Salvation Army through this annual event, which for some has become an annual tradition.

“We started different programs actually when the mills started laying people off, and there were so many people without jobs, and so we just started different programs for back to school and all those things to actually just help the community,” West Point City Council member Sandra Thornton said. “Even though a lot of people still have great jobs with Kia and the manufacturers and so on, but others (like) a grandma who has to raise her grandchildren or special needs children who need special things (need help).”

The Point University football team helped unload the Toys for Tots truck. It is one of the service projects that the team takes part in during the year.

“We’re thankful for the opportunity to give back to our community and make Christmas a little bit brighter for local families,” said Julius Dixon, the head football coach at Point University. “I’m focused on getting our students out and active in the community, and these experiences give our students a chance to feel good about giving back.”

The students were commended for their work to help local families.

“I was just thrilled that Point stepped up like they did because we are so lucky to have them there and have the volunteers,” Tramell said.

Overall, this year’s efforts were considered a success with many parents approved through the program walking away with several gifts for their children to open on Christmas morning.

“It makes a tremendous impact on the families who went through hard times who need help,” Chitwood said. “Those are the ones that we are trying to help.”

The Salvation Army will not be collecting any more toys donations for Christmas gifts this year. The group thanks everyone who participated for making this year a success.