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    Christmas Cheer Spreads to 600 Families

    Jason Hulsey, a Salvation Army volunteer, loads gift boxes onto a dolly so that he can give them to recipients. Photo by Chris Sloan

    San Bernardino Salvation Army Corps Officer Capt. Nancy Ball and volunteer Tara Murphy give gift cards to a recipient of one of 600 holiday gift boxes distributed Tuesday, Dec. 21. Photo by Chris Sloan

    A line of needy families awaits distribution of gift boxes by the San Bernardino Corps of the Salvation Army. Photo by Chris Sloan

    (SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) The San Bernardino Corps of the Salvation Army provided 600 families with food and toys for their children in a distribution that took place Tuesday, Dec. 21 at First Christian Church of San Bernardino.
    “This is the happiest day of the year for me,” said Capt. Stephen Ball, corps officer. “It means the hard work we have done over the past few months comes to an end with families being blessed. It also gives me an opportunity to share the Christmas story with them.”
    Since the Salvation Army is as much a church as it is a humanitarian organization, the story of Jesus’ coming is what motivates all of its officers and volunteers to help others all year. However, from before Thanksgiving to Christmas, the Salvation Army San Bernardino Corps steps up its efforts with:

    • Christmas Sharing Trees, manned by Salvation Army volunteers most of the hours Inland Center Mall is open. These gave opportunities for mall shoppers to buy toys for the children in the 600 families in need.

    “This is the only gift my daughter will be getting this Christmas,” said one recipient after she received her child’s gift on Tuesday.

    • A food drive to fill gift boxes handed out to these families. The boxes contain mixtures of pasta, rice, beans, canned fruits and vegetables and other non-perishable food items. A major donor this year was the Arrowhead District of the Boy Scouts of America, whose San Bernardino, Colton, Rialto, Grand Terrace and Highland troops worked with Salvation Army volunteers to collect 12,000 lbs. of food this year.

    The Boy Scouts collected most of that food by requesting donations in front of area Stater Bros. stores in November. Stater Bros. itself also donated some of the food.

    • Bell Ringers, at multiple locations in San Bernardino, Colton, Highland, Grand Terrace and Rialto, who carried on the Salvation Army’s long-standing and international tradition of ringing silver bells in front of red kettles. This tradition started back in 1891 to raise money for a Christmas dinner; today in San Bernardino it helps pay for grocery store gift cards that are handed out with the food boxes given out Tuesday, as well as a major portion of the expenses associated with feeding 200 to 300 people daily, and sheltering as many as 100 of them each night. It is one of the Salvation Army’s chief means of raising money.
    • A Thanksgiving dinner that fed about 450 people this year, and a Christmas dinner that is expected to feed about 300. Both of these dinners rely mainly on donated food, but Bell Ringers’ contributions and other financial donations may also be used.

    About the Salvation Army San Bernardino Corps
    The Salvation Army may be able to provide emergency services including food; lodging for homeless or displaced families; clothing and furniture; assistance with rent or mortgage and transportation when funds are available. The Salvation Army Team Radio Network assists rescue workers and evacuees in such disasters as fires.
    The Salvation Army is an evangelical part of the Universal Christian church and also offers evangelical programs for boys, girls and adults. One of the largest charitable and international service organizations in the world, The Salvation Army has been in existence since 1865 and in San Bernardino since 1887, supporting those in need without discrimination. Donations may always be made online at www.salvationarmyusa.org or by calling 1-(800)-SAL-ARMY.
    For local help call (909) 888-1336.


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