CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA)—“You’re always concerned that there’s going to be a child out there that is not going to have Christmas,” said Major Randall Summit with The Salvation Army. However, the Salvation Army of Champaign County says they’re no longer worried about that. Despite an increased need, they have enough gifts for kids on St. Nick’s list. “Very humbled and very thankful that no one got left out. There shouldn’t be anyone that didn’t get something for Christmas,” said Summit.
Last year, they served 851 families and helped 2,047 children. This year those numbers grew to 1,507 families served and toys for 3,857 children. The pandemic didn’t make it easy on them to meet the demand. There were fewer toy collection sites this year. “There were times that we saw a little bit of empty spots here and there in this room right here as far as the toy inventory running low,” said Paula Santiago with The Salvation Army. “There were days when we had a good amount of volunteers, and we were able to run pretty smoothly, other days when we were still struggling to find people who had the time or were willing to take that risk,” said Summit.
Distributing toys presented another challenge because families couldn’t shop inside their toy shop like they usually do. “We originally thought it would take three days. Well that didn’t work, so we went to four days. Well that didn’t work, so we will still be distributing stuff Monday and probably a little bit into Tuesday of next week. It just takes that long for people to come in, drive around, the volunteer to come in and find their stuff, drop it off, and get out,” said Summit.
However, every problem was met with a solution thanks to generous donors spreading Christmas cheer. “It’s just amazing to see the community coming together to make sure no one is left behind this holiday season,” said Santiago. Donations are still being accepted to help families in need.