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Area Charities Spread Holiday Cheer to Needy Families

Photo Courtesy of Jaylen Christie - Salvation Army
Photo Courtesy of Jaylen Christie - Salvation Army

December 23rd, 2013 | WMFE - Needy children across Central Florida will wake up on Christmas Day to find presents under their trees thanks to some Orlando-area charities.

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If you walk into the nondescript warehouse serving as the Salvation Army holiday toy distribution center, the first thing you notice is boxes. Lots and lots of boxes—hundreds, that just a few days earlier were filled with toys.

Twenty-year-old volunteer Joshua Quinones reflects on what he’s seen throughout the day.

“Today we had a bed...but you'd think a kid would ask for an Xbox or some type of toy, but this man asked for a bed. I wish I could have met him,”  says Quinones.

The Salvation Army Command in Orlando has taken 160 families under their wing for the Angel Tree Christmas Assistance Program. The annual event provides clothing, toys and other gifts for about 4,000 children from disadvantaged families in the greater Orlando area.

It isn’t just for parents who are unemployed or working minimum wage jobs—Major Mark Woodcock of the Salvation Army says many of the parents who come in are underemployed, working part-time jobs because of the economy or people who have stopped looking for work out of discouragement.

“Having the extra burden of Christmas—and you hate to say Christmas is a burden—but for some parents it is,” says Woodcock.

It’s a trend Sandy Vidal of the Christian Help Foundation says is growing.  The foundation opens its own toy store every year, where parents can come and pick out donated toys.

“We have seen a huge increase in families who are underemployed. That’s been one of the biggest challenges, actually, for them to even be able to take time off of work to come to pick up the toys,” Vidal says.

The Christian Help Foundation estimates they've helped 500 families and hundreds of children this year.

 

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