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Salvation Army does annual toy distribution

The Suffolk Corps of the Salvation Army held its annual toy distribution a bit differently than in past years.

In previous years, parents had the chance to come in and pick out the toys they knew their children would want. This year, volunteers went off suggestions given by parents to provide toys each child would enjoy.

To keep gathering and contact down, parents and guardians went online or visited the Suffolk Salvation Army location to register for toys and a pick-up time appointment. Then they would receive a confirmation number to collect the right bag of toys that matched the suggestions given. Due to the growing need brought on by this year, The Suffolk Corps of the Salvation Army extended the registration to help more residents.

“We kept taking names, and our numbers have exceeded past years,” said Capt. Angel Simmons. “It’s a little more work, but people are in need and we will keep giving until we run out of toys.”

On Dec. 15, parents and guardians came through the line and showed their reservation number to Capt. Angel Simmons. Drivers would then drive up to have a paper with their number put on the car’s windshield. Once the car went around, other staff and volunteers found the matching bag of toys to load in the cars. For seniors in the family, food boxes could also be requested.

The toys for this distribution came from the help of red kettles, Toys for Tots, and the Suffolk News-Herald Cheer Fund. The Suffolk Corps of the Salvation Army was able to put together bags for 550 families totaling approximately 1,400 kids receiving toys this Christmas.

“It’s a blessing to be able to provide in this pandemic,” said Lt. Shawn Simmons. “People need hope now more than ever. That’s why I love Salvation Army, always been a symbol of hope.”

With one drive-through under their belt, The Suffolk Corps of the Salvation Army is now preparing for one more distribution in Southampton.

This toy distribution comes after a brief closure at The Suffolk Corps of the Salvation Army due to a COVID-19 exposure. This closure limited the amount of fundraising the Salvation Army usually does during the holiday shopping season.

To help the Salvation Army reach its goal of $110,000 to help those in need, donate by texting SalArmySuffolk to 51555 or visiting tinyurl.com/suffolkredkettle.

Separately, the Cheer Fund provides approximately $40,000 to the Salvation Army to purchase toys every year.

To donate to the Cheer Fund, send a check to P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, VA 23439 or bring it to the newspaper’s temporary office, 157 N. Main St., from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. We will list your donation in the newspaper, but it can be marked “anonymous” if you like. Donations may be made in honor of or in memory of someone. If you bring the check to our office, we’ll even take your picture as you hand it to one of our staff.

Online giving is available through the link on the Suffolk Cheer Fund Facebook page. For more information on the Cheer Fund, call 757-539-3437.