Patience, toys in high supply at Salvation Army toy giveaway

December 20, 2007|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

Smaller-than-expected space at Long Meadow Shopping Center and lengthy lines created long waits at The Salvation Army's annual giveaway Thursday.

Salvation Army Maj. Karen Lyle said the storefront used last year, elsewhere in the plaza, was much larger, allowing a smoother flow as people picked out free toys.

This year, cards with appointment times had already gone out when Lyle found out The Salvation Army would have a smaller storefront, she said.

For many, the wait outside was two hours or more past the appointed times. Some said last year's wait was a fraction of that.


At about 4:10 p.m., a volunteer called out "1:30 p.m.," referring to the appointment group that could now go inside.

Logistics aside, the giveaway was bound to be a long day.

Lyle said 948 families, covering about 2,000 children, signed up for free goods from The Salvation Army. Those that didn't get in by closing time could come back this morning, she said.

Most room inside was devoted to toys, a result of the U.S. Marine Corps' annual Toys for Tots drive.

The Marine Corps' Bulldog detachment collected and bought toys and The Salvation Army sorted them, said Wayne Gross, Toys for Tots coordinator for Washington County.

Tables stacked high and deep with playthings were divided by the age and gender of the children who would get them. Bicycles were brought out from the back and loaded into shopping carts.

Veronica Nelson of Hagerstown, whose appointment was at 1 p.m., got in at 3 p.m. "But it's well worth it," she said.

Also waiting outside was Barbara Green of Boonsboro, whose appointment slot hadn't been called yet.

Green said it was worse three years ago, when she waited in line for 10 hours, then gave up and went home.

Green, whose husband is disabled, said of the giveaway, "It's a blessing .... I'm just grateful that they can help us."

Both women started to cry as they talked more about the bounty they were receiving.

Besides toys, each family also was given at least one bag of groceries that included sugar, potatoes, tea, macaroni and cheese, and canned goods.

They also got a half-gallon of milk, a loaf of bread and a gift card for perishable items at a grocery store.

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