Updated: Jan 14, 2021
When two young girls from Pasadena came into the Glen Burnie Salvation Army recently, they didn't come empty-handed. With their mother, they brought in at least 200 toys to donate to other kids who might not have a lot under the Christmas tree this year.
"That was quite impressive," said Dean Mears, the organization's Gen Burnie service unit manager. "That two little girls want to do something to help someone else."
Mears didn't recollect who the girls were in what was the middle of a very busy time of year for him and fellow staff. But he did recall they came in with their mom to deliver the gifts, and were from Pasadena.
They have been joined by many others donating toys locally this year. So much so that, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. tomorrow, December 24, they will be giving toys to those kids who drop by in need and hadn't already registered.
The children must be residents of 21125 area code, including Glen Burnie, Severn, Pasadena and Linthicum. The giveaway will be at the Salvation Army's Glen Burnie social service location at 511 Craine Highway South, next to the Boys and Girls Club.
"We have gotten more toys then any other year," he said.
He said he a registry the organization set up through Walmart has probably gotten them a more robust toy donations this year. Several businesses have also "adopted" between 30 and 70 children in need this year and supplied them with toys.
Many toy donors have been residents coming in with their children though, Mears reported.
The parents would drive to the Salvation Army and allow their children to bring in the gift bags to donate.
Mears said he also had the pleasure of delivering toys to a special-needs child this season.
"When you can make a kid happy, that's a great thing,..to be able to bring joy to their life" he said.
It's not all good news for Salvation Army Christmas programs this year. Need is very high. Mears said he heard that in their Baltimore location, they ran out of toys.
Nationally, the organization's Red Kettle program, was down $14 million as of Monday December 21. Its red kettle program collects funds from shoppers at the entrances to stores around the nation.
The drop in red kettle donations is due to COVID-19. There are 50 percent less kettle locations this year. Normally a kettle will take-in around $300 in donations. They have tried to make up the shortfall by creating a "virtual red kettle" to allow people to donate.
"We are behind on many things," said Melin Sotirou Droz, community relations director for the Salvation Army's Central Maryland Area Command. "Things being so very difficult with COVID-19."
Their goal for the online red kettle is $500,000. As of today they had gotten $107,000 for that program.
"It's below the number we expect, but at the same time we're mindful this (COVID-19) has effected families and businesses that would normally be our partners," Sotirou Droz said. "We are grateful for the outpouring we've gotten."
In a statement the Salvation Army said that it is the United States' largest privately funded, direct-service nonprofit, serving over 30 million people.
Folks at the Salvation Army believe that material goods are not the central theme of the season. After all, Jesus is said to have been born in a pile of hay in a stable on the first Christmas day. But they also believe that giving --to anyone in need, no matter their background or circumstances--is part of their mission.
"God is a giver," Mears said. "God loves the world. If we're going to be a reflection of Him, we have to be givers."