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Hundreds of wish lists for kids remain unfilled

Published: Sat, December 10, 2011 @ 12:01 a.m.

Salvation Army: Hundreds of wish lists for kids remain unfilled

By Ashley Luthern



The Salvation Army is less than 10 days away from distributing toys to needy children in Mahoning County.

And although many area residents, schools and businesses already have been generous, the Christian-based organization is facing a toy shortage, said Maj. Valerie Kahn.

Several hundred tags with wish lists have been picked up through Salvation Army’s Angel Giving Tree program, but hundreds more still need to be filled, Kahn said.

“There’s always a demand. This year, we’re serving about 1,200 families in Mahoning County and within those families about 2,000 children,” she said.

“We’re looking at distribution in 10 days, and we should be well along,” Kahn continued.

She looked around as several volunteers organized gifts at the distribution center. Pockets of toys are grouped on the floor, but it’s sparse.

Volunteer Kelly McCandless said toys are needed to fill tags that no one picked up or to even out siblings’ gift bags.

The Salvation Army compensates when one child in a family receives more than his or her sibling because the children had different donors, she said.

McCandless said she is worried.

“General donations are seriously down. Sometimes people who take tags forget to fill them or decide later that they can’t fill them,” she said.

Still, Kahn said there are many stories of generosity this year. She noted that so far the biggest donor has been Canfield High School students, who filled wish lists for 250 children.

Another inspiring donor, she said, is Kendall Tarr, a 12-year-old from Austintown.

Kendall was volunteering at the Salvation Army after school Friday. He got involved with the Angel Giving Tree program after his sixth-grade class at Austintown Middle School collected toys.

Then Kendall took it a step further. He collected toys and $220 at his church, Austintown Community Church.

“I’m going shopping with the money and will bring the toys here. I think I’m going to pick out more girl stuff and no more car stuff,” he said, as he looked at a small pile of toys on the girls’ table.

Kahn said toys for girls, such as dolls and craft materials, are in short supply, but both boys and girls, from infants to teenagers, need help.

When it comes time for distribution days, the Salvation Army will provide enough toys for 50 children every 30 minutes. To be a recipient of the Salvation Army donations, families must go through a social worker and demonstrate need, Kahn said.

“We’re trying to make a last push. If you walked by a tag, please pick one up. If you can’t, please buy just one toy,” she said.

New, unwrapped toys can be dropped off at the Salvation Army, 1501 Glenwood Ave., or at the Quaker Steak & Lube in The Shops at Boardman Park, 435 Boardman-Poland Road.


1lilgandee(103 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

We saw tags today at McDonald's and grabbed one, then I browsed quickly threw them and saw a 12 year old and felt we should take her as well. We dont have much and we actually ran short, didnt realize our gas guzzler would be going to Alliance 3 days in a row but I took a few of our things back to the store and got the $20 from my moms cell phone so we are fine. I was given help years ago and we felt we should help. I know times are real hard but your help can make a huge impact on a child even if just one toy. We got them a few items and hope they get what we bought but I suppose if it is separated perhaps a few more smiles are given. God bless the work you do, paying it forward feels good. Merry Christmas....

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2VindyPost(436 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Spread Christmas cheer from one to another by any means possible, it's always magical; tenderness, gladness, pleasing, gratifying heartwarming ways...We'll be giving to make the day bright. What a great feeling!

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3whitesabbath(738 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

This Generation seems to have taken CHRIST out of christmas.

More about what kids can get and demand to get for instant gratification.

I understand young children feel better getting a toy, but most have no clue what christmas really is about.

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4Ytownnative(1121 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

I usually try and get one or two but this year money is pretty tight

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5Education_Voter(1111 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Thank you White Sabbath.

As a child, my siblings and I got 1 gift from my parents, and 1 gift from my grandparents.

But we always went to Church. As far as I know, all Christian denominations are welcoming to Christmas service. Mine is for sure: Roman Catholic.

We had a nice family dinner. We had a day off from school. It was all good.

We had a Christmas tree that we decorated together on December 23rd or 24th, then kept up until the Epiphany. (The 12 days of Christmas).

The parents of my non-Christian friends had enough backbone to say "no" to their children about superficially copying Christians by having a Christmas tree and gifts.

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6lilgandee(103 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

I believe a lot about the above, but imagine putting a smile on that childs face. Many people abuse the system and use others too buy for their kids to boost what they give but for the child whose mom isnt the typical multi generational drug using family my gift is worth a lil struggle. These kids dont ask to be born into these families so they deserve one nice day, if you were one of these kids wouldnt others kindness show the true spirit of our God?

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7aluthern(2 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

First, thank you all for taking the time to read this article. As a reporter, I do appreciate the feedback and hearing readers' opinions.

I'm writing simply to add further information about why the Salvation Army does its Christmas charity work. This is straight from the organization's website:


Christmas Charity (Red Kettle and Angel Giving Tree)

The "miracle" of Christmas is repeated over and over again through the joy of caring and sharing.

The traditional red kettle is an integral part of the Christmas scene, with millions of dollars donated each year to aid needy families, seniors, and the homeless, in keeping with the spirit of the season.

Donations provide Christmas dinners, clothing, and toys for families in need. Financial assistance also helps with basic necessities, along with seasonal aid. Families of prisoners often are included.

Volunteers distribute gifts to shut-ins in hospitals and nursing homes, and shelters are open for sit-down dinners.

The Salvation Army endeavors to bring spiritual light and love to those it serves at Christmas so that the real meaning of the season is not forgotten.

Many families receive aid over a period of months after the Christmas season as well, people struggling with difficult family, emotional, or employment problems.


Also, unfortunately a box that ran in the print Vindicator today does not appear on the website and I would like to provide online readers with that information:

How to Help --
Select a tag from an Angel Giving Tree at churches and businesses around town and follow the instructions on it.

Go online to http://angel.jcpenney.com/angeltree/S... to find an a child locally that you can help.

Volunteer at the Salvation Army (businesses that would like to be a donation drop off point, for example) and get more information by calling 330-746-8403.


The main message I got from Major Kahn was that the Salvation Army isn't about toys, it's about giving to those less fortunate and practicing Christian-based principles. I apologize if that did not come across in my story. (And as a side note, reporters don't write any headlines, but I think the hope is that headline serves as a call to action for our readers to give what they can, if they can, and convey a sense of urgency).

Thanks for reading,

Ashley Luthern
Reporter | The Vindicator

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8southsidedave(5183 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

@ whitesabbath -

I agree with your comments, people have lost the true meaning of Christmas many years ago.

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9Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

As Gov. KKK said are there not soup kitchens are there not work homes .Let them go there . Get them out of my sight I do not wish to look at them

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