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Salvation Army delivers Christmas cheer

December 22, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN -- For her first year volunteering to distribute Christmas cheer for The Salvation Army in Hagerstown, Susan Johns landed a great "job" -- handing out $10 Martin's gift cards Monday to more than 1,100 families in need.

"It's wonderful to see all these people in need being helped," Johns said.

The distribution center at the former McCrory's in the Long Meadow Shopping Center was abuzz with activity all day Monday.

As recipients entered, they were matched up with volunteers and shopping carts to navigate the aisles past tables bearing toys, gifts and food.

The Marine Corps League, Salvation Army board members and others teamed up to move the distribution process along.

Washington County Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore and Col. Randy Wilkinson held the door as volunteers helped people load their vehicles.

Spring Hoopengarner said she signed up after her mother told her about the annual giveaway at The Salvation Army. For her and her four children, it will make the difference between Christmas and no Christmas.

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"I'm even working this year and it's still hard," Hoopengarner said as she gathered gifts for her children, who range in age from 5 to 13.

Volunteer Brennan Holloway, 15, of Greencastle, Pa., was on hand, along with his entire family to help out wherever they could Monday.

"I'm seeing Christmas from a new angle," Brennan said. "I'll appreciate it more now."

Vermenia Brown is the mother of a 6-year-old. This year was her second time seeking help from The Salvation Army.

"It's been hard for me this year," she said. "I work to pay my bills and then there is nothing left over."

As she left the store with her shopping cart brimming, Brown managed a bright smile when Johns handed her a $10 Martin's card.

Maj. Karen Lyle said The Salvation Army this year received requests from 1,142 families for toys and food, 178 more than last year.

Also surging this year was the number of children needing Christmas presents. That total was 2,278, or 337 more children than last year, Lyle said.

The Salvation Army plans to have a second distribution today from 8:30 a.m. to noon, using whatever is left for people on a waiting list.

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