Christmas wrap-up

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Divisions report on holiday season outreach.

“Sugar Plum Fairies” help with bellringing in Auburn, Calif.

Alaska Division
The Salvation Army in Anchorage was one of eight communities around the nation, to be presented 500 gift cards from the Wal-Mart Foundation, worth $500 each. Store manager Marty Howard presented the $25,000 in gift cards to Major Doug Tollerud, divisional commander for the Alaska Division. Families in need, including military families with loved ones deployed overseas, received a shopping spree at Wal-Mart and a greeting from Governor Sarah Palin.

Cascade Division
Portland, Ore., was one of 30 communities to receive 30 gift cards from Denny’s for breakfast on Christmas morning. Nationwide, 900 families experienced a warm holiday morning meal.

The Salvation Army provided 800 families with packed food boxes, supplied by Lamb’s Thriftway and assembled by local Scouts.

Bell ringers were plentiful in Portland: For the Rotary Day of Bellringing, 115 volunteers raised $18,000 in one-and-a-half hours. Also participating were 13 Star Wars characters who rang the bell and attracted many shoppers and their children. Commissioner James Osborne rang the bell with Mayor Tom Potter.

Del Oro Division
Nearly 400 guests attended the annual dinner and Christmas kettle kick-off at the Peppermill Hotel in Reno, Nev., for a steak and salmon meal and auction fundraiser. The more than $30,000 raised assisted in the Reno Corps’ Christmas efforts.

The Nevada Army National Guard helped kick off the Army’s annual Operation Turkey Drop as an air ambulance crew delivered $600 worth of frozen turkeys to the Reno Corps.

In one day, a “Battle of the Badges” bell-ringing competition between the Highway Patrol, Sheriffs and Police departments of Auburn, Calif., raised over $6,000 to support the Auburn Corps’ Christmas goals. To encourage donations, the officers brought in their mounted units, rescue vehicles, bomb squad, and canine units.

Golden State Division
In Merced, Calif., for the 21st year, The Salvation Army and the Merced Sun-Star partnered in “A Helping Hand at Christmas,” working to raise a goal of $65,000 by encouraging people to donate funds to provide necessities such as money for rent, food, clothing and even car repairs to people in need in the community. The paper sold a four-page Helping Hands special section on street corners in early December to help with the fundraising.

Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division
For the 25th year, The Salvation Army provided a live re-enactment of the first Christmas in an outdoor setting at Wai’oli Gardens in Manoa, Honolulu. Over … people enjoyed the 20-minute program complete with costumed performers and live animals. Using a taped narration by Sidney Poitier and Brooke Shields, the program repeated every half hour during a three-hour time block on Dec. 21-24.

Members of divisional headquarters’ staff were surprised a few days after Christmas when a young boy showed up with $400 he had raised with a lemonade stand. “I wanted to help other kids,” he said.

Intermountain Division
Colorado Springs, Colo., resident Matt McKinley volunteered to man a Salvation Army red kettle for 48 hours straight at a local Wal-Mart store. “In charity, there is no excess,” McKinley said, quoting Sir Francis Bacon. “If this helps me become more like The Salvation Army, then it is in no way excessive.”

Northwest Division
The 30th Annual Toy Run brought out at least 5,800 motorcycles to benefit needy children in Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater, Wash., despite the first big snowstorm of the season. The bike parade traveled a few miles, circling the Washington State Capitol, and ended with each biker donating a new toy or $10 to The Salvation Army’s Christmas Assistance Program. The Toy Run Coalition, made up of eight bikers who represent motorcycle clubs in the area, organizes the event each year.

Sierra del Mar Division
The Victor Valley Corps sent 50 children, ages 5-15, on a ChildSpree at two local Mervyns stores. Each received $120 in new clothes, shoes, and toysall with an additional discount from Mervynsas well as breakfast from Carl’s Jr. “I got all the stuff I neededa jacket, two shirts, a pair of pants, socks and sweatpants,” said 12-year-old Tenika Perryman, one of eight children in a family whose father is permanently disabled; the mother must care for him full-time. “This will be something I’ll never forget.”

The Salvation Army in San Diego served quite a meal at this year’s 24th annual Community Christmas Dinner. Over 800 pounds of turkey with all the trimmings fed 1,400 people from the community. Santa arrived and invited each child to the toyshop where he and his elves had a special gift for everyone.

Southern California Division
Just before Christmas those in need in South Los Angeles received a special gift courtesy of the “Feed the Children” ministry based in Oklahoma. Working in conjunction with The Salvation Army, especially through the Army’s South Los Angeles Community Center, five semi-trucks full of food and personal care items were distributed to needy families. Volunteers and media gathered at the Celerity Nascent School in Los Angeles and participated in the single largest food distribution in the county on December 17. During the distribution, Mortimer Jones, executive director of South Los Angeles Community Center, was honored by the other charitable organizations and presented with an “Unsung Hero” award for his efforts on behalf of the community.

Torrance Corps Officer Major Ivan Wild reports that the Marriott Hotel and Honda Corporation joined with The Salvation Army in hosting the “Sharing is Caring” dinner, an annual community event for 15 years. Hundreds of volunteers, including Honda employees, decorated the hotel banquet room and served a Christmas dinner to about 1,100 people—families, seniors and the homeless. The hotel staff prepared the meal, and Torrance City Council members attended on behalf of the mayor.

Southwest Division
The Army in El Paso, Texas, served free holiday dinners at six locations throughout the community to over 1,500 people. The Street Stockings program provided fresh fruit, socks, gloves, and snacks in Christmas stockings to the homeless around the city.

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