Santa has a lot of helpers this year.
Officials with two major holiday fundraising efforts — the Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots drive — are reporting that many generous donors have stepped up to help them recover from setbacks suffered when the recent storm put everything on hold for about a week.
Both campaigns were at a critical stage when the storm hit.
After the ice finally began to melt, the Denton County Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign total was about $20,000 behind last year’s contributions, according to Bill Cheek Jr., chairman of the Salvation Army’s Denton Area Advisory Council.
“This is the worst I’ve seen,” Cheek told us.
The inclement weather also canceled a critical weekend of collections for Toys for Tots, including an effort at Golden Triangle Mall.
“Everything was halted because of the weather,” said Army Reserve Capt. Norma Cabanas, commander of the Army Reserve 957th Quartermaster Company, which is spearheading the Toys for Tots drive this year.
The outlook looked bleak for a while, but once word began to spread, area residents responded.
Many of the events supporting the Toys for Tots campaign were rescheduled for last weekend, and the Golden Triangle Mall was filled with shoppers who dropped off donations. Children brought toys they had purchased and vehicles filled with toys pulled up outside.
The donors were not only generous, but enthusiastic, Cabanas said.
“It was just amazing,” she said. “The children kept saying, ‘I want to help, I want to help.’ It was a good thing.”
Cash donations for the weekend topped $9,000, Cabanas said, and more than 1,450 toys were contributed.
“That’s phenomenal,” she said. “I can’t tell the community thank you enough.”
Several area restaurants helped by donating meals for toy drive volunteers or providing discounts and gift certificates, she said.
The community also pitched in to give the Red Kettle campaign a much-needed boost, Cheek told us. Several commitments, including a recommendation from the United Way of Denton County Executive Committee to donate $10,000, have been made.
Thanks to the timely donations, the Salvation Army can help out those in need with services including emergency financial assistance, Christmas assistance, a homeless shelter and a food pantry, and the holidays will be brighter for a lot of Denton County children.
Sharing our blessings is the best way to celebrate the holiday season, and those who have supported these and other fundraising efforts know what we mean. Offering a helping hand gives you a nice warm glow.
If you haven’t had an opportunity to contribute, it’s not too late. The Salvation Army’s red kettles will be set up through Christmas Eve outside 17 locations in the Denton area, and you can also donate food, clothing and grooming supplies at the Salvation Army shelter at 1508 E. McKinney St. For more information, call 940-566-3800.
The Toys for Tots campaign also can use more help, Cabanas told us. Volunteers are needed to sort toys, and you can still drop off toy donations between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. at 3250 Jim Christal Road in Denton or make a cash donation at www.aubrey-tx.toysfortots.org. To volunteer, contact William Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 940-381-0894.
There’s still time to help, so why not share a little holiday joy?