The 5th Annual Fulton County Salvation Army Christmas Toy Drive addresses a specific need for toys for children 10 years of age and older and infants up to 3 years of age.
Toy drive coordinator Ryan Lorey, who also manages the Fulton County Area News Facebook page, has helped distribute around 50 toy drive boxes in Fulton and Montgomery counties over the past few weeks.
“There is no Salvation Army in Montgomery County, so the Salvation Army is now helping Montgomery from here in Fulton County,” Lorey said. “Many of our toys will also help the children of Montgomery County. “
Lorey described on Sunday what he’s seen this year so far for the annual toy drive effort.
“We don’t usually have stuff for kids 10 and over, it’s hard to get for that age, and right now we don’t have anything in stock,” Lorey said. “And baby stuff too. There are things that people can buy for babies, and we also have a hard time getting baby items, and people can donate baby clothes and food too, not just toys.
Captain Wendy Senior, commander of the Fulton County Salvation Army, said that during the 2020 Christmas season, her organization helped 388 families in Fulton and Montgomery counties, helping to donate ‘an average of five to six toys each for 506 children. She said the toy drive also included opportunities to donate food, but so far this year the Salvation Army has seen fewer families expressing needs, which she attributes to the increased amount. of money available through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. [SNAP], greater availability of food in pantries and further reductions in food mass.
“Last year there were a lot of people who were just food, with no toys involved, and that would be a lot of the elderly, single or homeless,” she said. “This year we see more and more people coming to us and saying ‘I don’t need food. I need toys. I need gifts for my children. We see a trend in that direction.
Lorey said the toy drive effort uses The Salvation Army’s “Angel Tree Program” to help identify community needs. He said participating locations in both counties have “angel tree tags,” which are paper tags that can be hung on Christmas trees and that contain a child’s identification number, their first name, age, gender, clothing size and Christmas wish items. The tag contains all of the necessary information a sponsor needs to purchase the gifts for their assigned child.
Lorey said that after four years of organizing the toy drive, the Fulton County Salvation Army has developed a great understanding of the needs of specific children in both counties.
“We got bigger and better every year,” Lorey said. “The good thing about our program is that while there are a lot of great toy programs out there, the really good thing about our toy drive is that we know who these kids are. We know how old they are. We know the types of things that they like or need, so the kid is actually going to get things that they like or need, compared to some of the other toy programs that just aim to provide. toys for families.
In Fulton County, some of the places where Salvation Army toy collection boxes can be found include the Walmart Supercenter in Gloversville, the Fulton Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing, and three locations used by the First Choice Financial Federal Credit Union, including their main branch in Gloversville, a smaller branch inside the Walmart Supercenter, and a location near the Subway store in Vail Mills.
Lorey said the central hub for toy donation in Montgomery County is the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in Fultonville.
“They’ll even come out and, if a senior or someone can’t make it to the sheriff’s office and they want to donate a toy, they’ll send a patrol car to that person’s house,” Lorey said.
Volunteers needed for the 2021 Hope Marches On Red Kettle campaign
Another key aspect of The Salvation Army’s annual Christmas activities is the organization’s 130th Red Kettle fundraising campaign. Captain Wendy Senior said that each year the Fulton County Salvation Army deploys two red kettles, one at the Price Chopper in Johnstown and the other at the Walmart Supercenter in Gloversville, to raise money to help the needy.
Senior said that in 2020 she had around 12 volunteers on hand to watch the two red kettles and ring the bells to help solicit donations, but so far 2021 has proven to be a more difficult year to recruit volunteers.
“I had a lot more people willing to volunteer regularly last year – this year I have three,” Senior said. “And at the same time, I have fewer people giving.”
Senior said that although she has fewer volunteers to solicit donations, this year’s edition of the Red Kettle campaign includes the ability for people to use payment apps on their smartphones, such as Google Pay and Apply Pay, to contribute money to the campaign.
“Price Chopper will allow us to leave our booth when there is no Kettle person there because people can use these payment apps to donate money even when no one is there.” -low, ”Senior said. “People can just walk over to the kettle and make a payment. “
Senior said those interested in volunteering should call his office at 518-725-4119.
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