TOMS RIVER – Another Christmas has come and gone, and for some, this was the hardest one.
A line of cars surrounded the Salvation Army building on Route 37. Each car represented a family that needed help getting presents for their children.
Starting in October, the Salvation Army began taking applications from locals for what was needed in the home, said Major Carol Ditmer. Volunteers collected toys, clothes, and other gifts from well-meaning locals. The family drove over, gave a ticket with their number at one door, and then at another door, volunteers brought out a bag of stuff for them.
“Some families have been adopted by groups and it’s lovely,” she said.
This year, however, the need for gifts was hard to reach, Ditmer said. Usually, locally owned stores would be donation sites. But because of the virus, a lot of businesses didn’t want people coming in.
Public schools are also big sources of donations that dried up when schools were fully or partially closed. Even schools that opened weren’t at full capacity.
Senior groups are usually generous at this time, but they were not meeting either because of the virus, she said.
“We try to fill their requests the best we can,” she said. There were more than 300 families in need.
The basic operation of the toy drive was also impacted. They also couldn’t put out as many kettles this year, she said. Another issue was transportation. You couldn’t drive several people in one vehicle if they weren’t from the same household.
“If it weren’t for our volunteers, we’d be lost,” she said.
How To Help
The best way to help most charities is with monetary donations. There are ways to give online at SalvationArmy.org, or it can be dropped off at their building, located at 1738 Route 37E.