Hundreds Register For Salvation Army Food Baskets, Toys

Official: Demand Up, Donations Down

This is the time of year that children start filling out their Christmas wish lists.

But, faced with the loss of a job or a cutback in hours, many parents are turning to the Salvation Army to help fulfill their children's wishes.

Hundreds of people lined up outside the Red Shield Community Center in northeast Denver Monday morning to register for holiday food baskets and children's toys.

"As the morning grew, so did the line," said Roberta McKinney, director of the Red Shield Center. "Each child will get a gift and the family will get Christmas dinner, a box of food and a gift certificate for the grocery store."

McKinney said many of the families asking for assistance used to donate to the nonprofit.

"It's very difficult to hear their stories. It's heart rending," she said.

Rasheda Anderson came to register with her 6-week-old son, Cedric.

"He's a bundle of joy," Anderson said. "I love him."

When asked what she wanted Cedric to have for Christmas, she said, "He needs a stroller, but if they don't have one, some building blocks."

Anderson said in the past, she was able to help others.

"I've donated canned goods, food," Cedric said.

But this year, she said, she's not able to. Neither is Nikkea Johnson.

"I've been able do more in the past," Johnson said. "But times were a little bit easier."

Johnson brought her 4-year-old son, Jatour, to the Red Shield Center. He told 7NEWS he wants a skateboard for Christmas.

"Just the look on his face will be amazing if he gets what he wants," Johnson said. "He's a good child and smart, so it's well-deserved."

Salvation Army officials said the situation this year is a far cry from 2002, when there were more donations than people to process them. This year, donations are down, and demand is way up.

"We expect to help more than 23,000 people in the metro area during the holidays," said Stephanie Gustafson of the Salvation Army.

"We're desperately in need of canned goods," McKinney added. "And, as we start preparing for the children's toys, we're going to need lots of toys as well."

Volunteer Taina Lucero knows all about the need.

"Three years ago, I didn't have a job," Lucero said. "I was struggling. I came to the Salvation Army. They helped me get Christmas gifts for my children and clothes. I was in need of food. And right now, I look back and I'm so thankful."

The Salvation Army said it needs food, clothing, toys and money. Canned goods can be dropped off at any Salvation Army location.

Monetary donations can be sent to:

    The Salvation Army P.O. Box 2369 Denver, CO 80201

Registration for holiday food baskets and toys continues through Friday at the Red Shield Community Center at 2915 High Street. The hours are from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Fridays.

Registrations are also being accepted at the West Adams Center at 2821 W. 65th Place. The hours are from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. from Tuesday through Thursday.

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