Charlotte13,600 children from more than 6,300 parents with low incomes are going to receive toys from the Salvation Army Burbank Corps and its volunteers.

The Army also organized a free Thanksgiving dinner for more than 200 people, and they build a tree with prayer requests from thousand of parents. According to Census data, 15,4 percent of residents live in poverty in Mecklenburg County, where Charlotte is located.

The Salvation Army Volunteers last year, taking their initiative to Toronto .Photo: Level5.
The Salvation Army Volunteers last year, taking their initiative to Toronto .Photo: Level5.

As the Charlotte Observer stated, this year the Bureau asked in its registration form if parents had a prayer request. Hundreds of them wrote down the problems and difficulties they were facing. The most common ones were the lack of a stable job, recent car accidents and taking care of children suffering from disabilities.

A mother, whose daughter have a speech problem, wrote five letters for each of her children. The mother said she prayed for her daughter to think of herself as beautiful. Thankfully, half of the children in the program will receive toys, clothing, food and gift cards from donations of the Charlotte Observer readers.

Last year, the newspaper’s Empty Stocking Fund collected $374,000 from donations and sponsors. On the other hand, the Salvation Army Company will place the name of registered children in cards. These will be put on Angel Trees at local malls. This way, people can buy toys from the list and drop them at the tree.

Majors Larry and Debra Broome, the Salvation Army’s new commanders, said they are fully aware of the reach that the Christmas program has had since its start in 1979. They wanted to make people feel that others were interested in them and cared about them. That’s why they came up with the idea of making a tree with parent’s prayers. They did not want Salvation Army to be a place where people just get asked for free toys. 

“Pray for my daughter who doesn’t speak to me…I just want the family to be like it used to be, loving and friendly,” one of the mothers wrote in a letter.

The most common parent’s prayer request was for spiritual intervention in their financial situation, according to the Charlotte Observer. Parents declared need for jobs, homes and transportation. Charlotte was ranked last among the nation’s 50 largest cities, in upward mobility of children, according to a study made in 2014 by the Harvard University and the University of California-Berkeley.

The program, that will supply toys for more than 13,000 children this year, is one the largest in the Southeast. Different charities are coordinated to ensure toys are not given to the same families. In that way, they can reach more homes. Several low-income senior citizens will be also benefited from christmas’ donations. The Silver Bells program will give simple gifts to more than 250 seniors.

Debra Broome has been a Salvation Army officer for 38 years. She said this is the first year she and her husband are in charge of a Christmas program of such a surprising size. 

“We expected this to be a hectic time. But we both like the idea of being out in the field, where we are touching lives, dealing with people directly, seeing the results. One thing that has not ceased to amaze us since we came here is the overwhelming generosity of people in Charlotte,” she and her husband said to the Charlotte Observer.

Source: The Charlotte Observer