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Salvation Army makes holidays merrier

December 21, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

The Salvation Army in Hagerstown spread holiday cheer Tuesday as volunteers and staff gave out food and in some cases gifts to more than 800 people.

"Without this, I wouldn't make it to the end of the month," said Fred Myers, 64, who came for his holiday food package for the sixth year in a row.

Ramona Gibbs who has four children ranging in age from 7 months to 8 years, said she needs help with food as well as putting gifts under the Christmas tree.

"This is really telling me what Christmas is about," Gibbs said. "This feeling of giving really puts the meaning back into it for me."

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Money has been hard to come by this year for Shelly Beckett of Smithsburg, so she decided to let the Salvation Army help her and her family.

"This is very important to my family," she said.

Volunteers and staff said the generosity of the people of Washington County was overwhelming this year. Without it, the Salvation Army wouldn't have been able to brighten the holidays with food and toys for more than 800 families Tuesday.

Early in the morning, people arriving at the West Franklin Street agency to get their food baskets and toys.

Many of the toys came through the Angel Tree program in which contributors match up a child with a toy.

"One family came in with 20 bicycles and helmets to be given out," said Maj. Georgia Henderson.

Then there was the youngster who came to the office one day and donated his entire $10 allowance to help other children, Henderson said.

The food bags provide the ingredients for a Christmas dinner, including stuffing, canned vegetables and fruits.

The Salvation Army adds milk, bread, pastries and a turkey, sized to suit the size of the family, according to Larry Miller, a volunteer and a member of the Salvation Army men's club.

This year, toys were provided for 2,500 children, 1,000 more than last year. Food was gathered for more than 800 families.

Henderson said the Salvation Army also took gifts to about 1,300 residents of area nursing homes.

Volunteers included some regulars and a few first-timers like 12-year-old Lauren Bust and Penn State student Douglas Grane.

Bust, a student at St. James School, worked alongside her mother, Mary Bust, lifting heavy food bags and handing them personally to people in need.

"It feels good," said Lauren Bust, whose mother brought her along so she'd know the value of doing things for others.

"I got home early from college and wanted to do something worthwhile with my time," said Grane, 19. He said he leafed through the telephone book, saw the Salvation Army listing, and showed up Tuesday morning ready to help.

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