Salvation Army, legion of volunteers bring wonderful Christmas to local kids

BY D’ARCY EGAN

An amazing amount of work goes into the annual Salvation Army Toy Distribution at the agency’s Port Clinton Service Unit on Perry Street, efficiently providing a shining collection of dolls, bicycles, games and clothing to families in need.

Director Maureen Saponari and a legion of volunteers spend many months rounding up the toys, or the funding to purchase them. The Salvation Army center is not a resale center, but rather an agency that helps people, whether it is toys for their children at Christmas, a summer camp for kids or financial help with the rent.

The Salvation Army system streamlines the Toy Distribution process. Families must make an appointment for a certain time on distribution day, and list the children’s ages to help determine the best gifts for each age group. With lots of volunteers, the Salvation Army is able to escort family members to the correct areas and, armed with a very large plastic bag, take gifts to their vehicle in the parking lot.

“We have about 60 volunteers this year, and they’re really giving people,” said Saponari. “Our Red Kettle bell ringers are wonderful, and the help we had with the recent Tree A Rama Charity Auction was fantastic.”

“I enjoy wrapping the presents, and making people smile,” said Shirley Stary of Marblehead, who was one of four nimble-fingered gift wrappers. The others were Anne O’Malley of Port Clinton and Karen Salzgeber.

Debra Brough of Norwalk, Ohio made a long trip to help distribute toys, clothes and more “because it just makes me feel good,” she said.

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