Salvation Army, Lions gear up for toy drive

Two teams of Santa’s elves will work together to deliver toys and other goodies to needy children and families this year.

The Salvation Army and eight Lions clubs in the Grand Valley and Collbran will coordinate their efforts, Salvation Army Capt. Dan Wilson and Orchard Mesa Lion Gary Blackman said Friday.

The two hope to allay fears that the annual Christmas effort might be hindered after it became known the annual U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots drive wouldn’t be conducted in 2010.

If anything, the combined effort of the Lions and Salvation Army “should come off a lot better this year,” Blackman said.

The two organizations are working in such a way that donors and recipients won’t notice any difference from previous years, though Blackman and Wilson said they hope to eliminate duplication of effort. At the same time, they hope to make sure recipients and their families get more than just toys at Christmas.

Both organizations will coordinate with the Mesa County Workforce Center, which collects the names of families in need of help.

Toy runs such as the familiar Harley-Davidson ride that heralds the Christmas season won’t be affected, Wilson and Blackman said.

The Lions clubs this week will place toy-collection barrels in all the usual Toys for Tots collection points, as well as some new ones, Blackman said.

The Salvation Army’s familiar kettle program, canned-food drive, angel trees and adopt-a-family programs will continue as they have, Wilson said.

One new wrinkle is donors who wish to contribute cash for large toys, such as bicycles, are encouraged to do so with The Salvation Army, which is best set up for that part of the job.

Donors can contribute with credit cards at The Salvation Army store at 1155 N. Fourth St. and the store and warehouse at 1038 Ute Ave.

The seven Lions clubs of the Grand Valley jumped into the breach when the Toys for Tots news surfaced. Since the Lions announced their effort, the club in Collbran joined in, bringing the number of participating clubs to eight, Blackman said.

Early indications are there will be plenty of demand for toys and other Christmas needs, Wilson said.

Already, The Salvation Army is aware of 287 families, representing about 600 children, who qualify for Christmas help.

Generally, people don’t begin signing up before Thanksgiving, so the early interest might be a harbinger of needs yet to come, Wilson said.



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