Christmas Cheer, and Woes, for the Salvation Army
More than 100 families were stopping by the Salvation Army building on Woodlawn Avenue on Friday and walking away with much-needed bags of toys and grocery money.
Each year the Salvation Army provides food and gifts for Saratoga County families in need. Capt. Amber Boone says people register for the service and then provide the names of their children, along with the Christmas wish lists their children have prepared. The names are given to area businesses who have agreed to help.
Many of the businesses in turn allow customers to ‘adopt’ a child or a family, shopping for items on the wish lists and giving those gifts to the Salvation Army for final distribution.
A number of area businesses always step up to help, says Boone. “Wal-Mart has been wonderful,” she says. “The other day I picked up three large shopping carts of presents.” The Adirondack Trust branch on South Broadway also helps, as does Key Bank, Saratoga National and the 1st National Bank of Scotia. “The banks are always phenomenal,” she says.
Banks aren’t the only businesses that get involved though. Kletter and Levine, a dental practice on Church Street has adopted a family, as has the Carol Lawrence School of Dance in Ballston Spa.
In order to participate in the free program, families must meet certain criteria, including income. But Boone says, “If you’re willing to come in, I’m willing to help you, so we haven’t turned anyone away.”
Once the donations of gifts were received, Boone says people from the Navy facility on the west side volunteered to help get the bags ready. “It was great – these big Navy guys holding up these little pink pajamas, asking ‘Do you think these will fit her?’”
The program, which the Salvation Army has run for many years, helps to take care of an important need in the community – providing for those who might otherwise go without. For many families, Boone says, “This is all the Christmas they get.”
“This year, people were very generous for those kids who were adopted,” she says. “You can see how full the bags are. These are things people are using to bless others.”
In the meantime, the Salvation Army itself could use a little help. Each year volunteers help the organization raise money by standing at the familiar Red Kettles and ringing a bell. Passersby drop in quarters, dimes, even nickels to help fund the group’s operations for the coming year.
But this year, the money isn’t coming in as well as it usually does. Boone says their goal for this year was to raise $150,000. That money provides for 50% or more of their annual operating budget. “So far we’ve raised just $109,000,” she says, “with just a few more days left.” The kettles disappear on Christmas Eve.
Boone says people give what they can. “We had two people come in and give us $2500. That really helps.” But overall, giving is down. And when asked what happens if they don’t make their goal, she replies, “I don’t like to ask that question.”
“Somebody said the other day, ‘Hope is not a financial plan.’ But I told them, prayer is.”
ON THE WIRE