Salvation Army Christmas effort

A volunteer helps sort donations made the Salvation Army’s annual Angel Tree Christmas drive. The group is still in need of both donations and volunteers.

LEONARD WOOLSEY/The Daily News

Rows of tall, empty cardboard boxes stand at attention waiting to be filled. Each box represents a family in need; each family represents a child or several children. There are hundreds of them. The math equates to more than 3,000 Galveston County children in need this season.

For many, Hurricane Harvey is the Grinch attempting to steal Christmas.

The Salvation Army of Galveston County is housing its distribution center inside the dark and hollow space once occupied by the Dillard’s department store at the Mall of the Mainland in Texas City. The space is deep, dark and cavernous.

Voices echo and get lost in the depth of the once alive space. The number of rows of boxes only adds weight to the task ahead.

The other evening, my wife and I stopped by to offer a hand filling orders for the Angel Tree. The hard truth is, there are still too many Angel Tree vouchers waiting to be filled this year.

The effect of Harvey continues to hang over Galveston County — threatening to steal Christmas from the youngest and most innocent residents.

Behind every cardboard box is a family prequalified as being in need. While the circumstances are as individual as the spelling of their names, the situations are similar — these families are hurting.

Each year, many people go out of their way to collect Angel Tree vouchers. The process is simple — children request a few modest items they would wish to see under the tree. A toy, a book, and more times than you would imagine, clothes to wear.

When an individual returns the order filled and ready, the bag is then placed in the box designated for the family and child, waiting for the pick up date.

The hard reality is not all Angel Tree vouchers are collected ahead of time — leaving many to be being filled by volunteers inside the hollow shell of an empty department store.

On the night we visited, children and adults were filling Angel Tree vouchers. Long tables of donated items — toys, clothes, socks and books — lined the walls as volunteers work to fill the orders. Once filled, the volunteer searches through the rows of numbered boxes, placing the bag inside the family’s designated box.

Here is the truth — this is labor intensive and the supplies are low. If you have the opportunity to help, this is the year. Remarkably, the items in need are modest; many kids listed clothes as their most needed items. Books, too, are especially high on the list and low in availability.

The entire experience of filling the orders is humbling. Imagining the faces behind the vouchers is impossible for anyone with a beating, loving heart.

Let’s not let a Grinch named Harvey steal our children’s Christmas. Reach out and help. Allow your blessings to help bless another this year.

Make a difference today by making a donation or volunteering to help. Contact Holly McDonald at the Salvation Army of Galveston at Holly.McDonald@uss.salvationarmy.org.

Leonard Woolsey: 409-683-5207; leonard.woolsey@galvnews.com

President & Publisher of The Galveston County Daily News.

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