Hundreds of hours of volunteering and planning will pay off Friday at the Salvation Army's annual Christmas Bureau distribution. For more than 30 years, the Salvation Army has been making Christmas possible for many families in need by giving out toys, books, and baskets of food. As our Katie Gibas reports, officials wouldn't have been able to meet the increasing need without their many community partners.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Christmas has become increasingly difficult for many families in Central New York. The Salvation Army anticipates they'll serve more than 2,800 families at their annual Christmas Bureau Distribution Friday.
"Those people who were at one time volunteers, are now the people who are coming in as clients," said Major George Polarek, the CNY Salvation Army CEO.
Each family will receive a toy, book, and stocking stuffers for each child. They also get a basket of food for a full holiday dinner, including turkey and all the traditional dressings.
And that meal wouldn't have been possible without Wegman's donating more than 18,000 pounds of food Thursday.
"We know that the community is our customers. Those are people that come to our stores and shop with us everyday. We recognize that we're receiving a benefit by them shopping at our stores. And we want to give back and recognize that giving back is one of our company priorities," said Evelyn Carter, the Community Relations Director for Wegman's.
Polarek added, "Wegman's has always been for us the sort of backstop. They are the means by which we can fill where we are short."
Salvation Army officials say that none of this would have been possible without the help of their volunteers who sorted food and toys and will help with the actual distribution.
"When you look at all of the volunteer hours, we're going to surpass 26,000 hours logged in between Thanksgiving and Christmas," said Polarek.
More than 800 volunteers will help with the distribution Friday.
The Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign ends in just one week. They're still more than $50,000 short of their goal.