After all children receive sponsors, Salvation Army make final preparations for gift distribution
BATON ROUGE - Volunteers with The Salvation Army of Greater Baton Rouge spent Wednesday tying up rows of bags filled with gifts for some 3000 children as part of the Angel Tree program. Names were checked off, and toys were organized ahead of Friday and Saturday's distribution.
"It's getting there," Major Donald Tekatuz said. "We're going to make it."
The vacated Shoppers Value on Greenwell Springs Road is now transformed into the North Pole. The rows of bags representing those 3,000 kids and 1,100 families were not a certainty earlier this month.
"It's just nothing short of amazing," Tekautz said. "It's nothing short, really, of a serious miracle, of people coming together and seeing the needs of these children. This really is an amazing community."
Some children are now set to get bikes, while others will be receiving a basketball hoop, among other toys.
"Dolls for girls are still really popular," Tekautz said. "Trucks for boys. Scooters are really popular."
It's not just toys, however, the community will be providing these families.
"Diapers and wipes, you know, just the practical things," Tekautz said. "A lot of times for school-aged children, they like to have some new bedding, sheets. It's amazing how many children sleep on a mattress on the floor."
In the midst of the pandemic, and following a major hurricane, the need this year is much bigger. Tekautz and his staff were under pressure as 1,600 kids remained to be adopted a week and a half ago. WBRZ highlighted the trouble finding sponsors.
That number was cut in half just days later. Slowly but surely every child got adopted, providing a huge sigh of relief.
"Since Monday, Tuesday of this week, stuff has just been pouring in," Tekautz said. "We set up gaylords out in front of our building on Airline, and literally we were filling a gaylord about every ten to fifteen minutes."
A few rows of bags are still left to be checked and tied up ahead of Friday. The work for these volunteers, though, is worth it to make the holiday season special for those in need."
"It's still a parent who's struggling with making their ends meet, struggling to know how they're going to make Christmas for their family," Tekautz said. "Although it's just a number, it really is a real child and you can never forget that part."
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