Increased workload is driving Salvation Army in Tyrone to push harder

In 2001, 146 families applied for assistance through the Tyrone Chapter of the Salvation Army during the holiday season. In 2002, the organization saw an increase of 28 additional families.
This may sound like just a minor increase, but according to Major Karen Garrett of the Salvation Army, packaging groceries and acquiring toys for these additional families is just another well-received chore to the dedicated volunteers of the Tyrone Community.
“We really do have lots and lots of needs this year,” said Anderson yesterday morning. “We have more people signed up every before and are seeing many families for the first time. We’re working hard each and everyday to make sure everyone in Tyrone has a Merry Christmas and a good time over the holiday season.”
Currently, the Salvation Army is asking for numerous donations to help less-fortunate families in the Tyrone and Bellwood areas. These items include non-perishable food items, hats, coats, gloves, boots and, just in time for Christmas, toys.
“During the depression, the kids were ever so happy even to find one toy under the tree each year,” said Garrett, “but times have definitely changed.
“Now kids are growing up and seeing other little boys and girls on television being greeted Christmas morning with a room full of toys,” she said. “In a lot of cases, parents, for whatever reasons, are not able to provide toys like what’s seen on TV. In fact, some parents can’t afford any toys at all.”
This is where the local chapter of the Salvation Army intervenes.
“We’re looking for all types of toys for children aged through 12,” said Anderson. “We understand that we won’t be able to fill a room with toys for a specific family, but what we do know is that we can provide something. Every child that is on our list will receive a large toy and possibly three, four or even more smaller toys.”
According to Garrett, with the increase in applications this year, a heavier strain is placed on the Salvation Army to provide for all these additional families.
“Last year, I think we collected about 300 toys,” she said, “but this year, we’re going to need a few more than that.”
Area businesses and organizations have come to the Salvation Army’s aid.
Tyrone Mayor Patricia Stoner has already collected a Santa-sized sack of toys at the borough building, and Albermarle Corp. recently picked up 75 angels from the giving tree in the Salvation Army’s Christmas House on West Tenth Street.
According to Garrett, this tree contains paper angels that are each inscribed with a requested gift idea from one of the area’s more unfortunate children. Angels can be picked up at the Christmas House Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Those interested in making a toy donation must note that the gift should not be wrapped. Garrett said when the family picks up their gift packages, the gifts will be covered with a black tarp so the children can’t see what’s inside.
The gifts will be distributed at the Christmas House on Dec. 20 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This gift package will also include bagged groceries containing non-perishable food items. Anderson said each of these food gifts will contain enough rations to sustain a family for approximately a week after Christmas.
Food donations can be dropped off at the Christmas House or at their local religious establishment.
Also, the Salvation Army will be cruising with this evening’s Christmas Parade in the Canteen, which is being borrowed from the Altoona chapter, in hopes of collecting more food for the project.
“So if you’re coming to the parade (tonight) bring a can of something,” said Garrett. “We’re really hoping for a big success.”
As for warm clothing, some still exists at the Christmas House. Hats, gloves, boots and coats are all available for families who may not have the warmest of clothing during the holiday season. Donations of warmer clothing can also be made at the Christmas House.
And, as always, the Salvation Army continues to seek additional volunteers. Whether it’s working inside the Christmas House, helping to package groceries and sort toys, or spending time with a kettle in front of one of Tyrone’s many places of business, there’s always help needed somewhere.
“We’re always looking for volunteers,” said Garrett. “Even if someone thinks they can help out for an hour or two, we could use you.
“In fact, the entire community could use you.”