12/16/08 — Gift of a Christmas: Salvation Army helps families

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Gift of a Christmas: Salvation Army helps families

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on December 16, 2008 1:46 PM

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Airman 1st Class Bethany Campbell, left, and Airman 1st Class Abigail Donahue, right, of the 4th Force Support Squadron at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, assist Danielle Bostic, center, in picking out some Christmas stockings today for her two children at the Goldsboro chapter of the Salvation Army.

A few months ago, Julia was preparing her children for a Christmas morning without a tree -- without presents, candy canes or a turkey dinner.

"I told them that sometimes, Santa gets behind," the single mother of two said. "I told them he might accidentally miss our house this year."

In reality, she was the one behind -- on rent and other bills -- a circumstance she says was created when the price of gasoline and other necessities skyrocketed this summer.

"We had to eat," Julia said. "By the time we had, there was no money left to save."

So when she walked out of the Salvation Army this morning with a bag full of gifts, boxes of clothing and a few stockings, she threw her hands up.

"Thank you Lord," Julia said. "And Merry Christmas."

More than 900 children from 400 Wayne County families will have a reason to celebrate Dec. 25, as volunteers and members of the Salvation Army passed along gifts, clothing and food this morning to their parents.

Norma was one of them.

"Oh my daughter just loves Hannah Montana," she said, reaching for one of the dolls with the celebrity's name on it. "Yes she does."

And then there was Eve.

"He will take just about anything," she said of her 8-year-old son. "That truck right there. I think he'll like that."

Volunteers smiled as they helped parents and guardians pick out toys like that truck.

4th Fighter Wing Senior Airman Natalie Huntington was one of them.

"I try to do a lot of volunteer work," she said. "I was raised to give back, I guess."

But there is another reason she showed up Tuesday.

The airman has a 4-year-old daughter and is a single mother like some of the women who came to pick up toys.

And there was a time when she needed help from organizations like the Salvation Army.

"So this is a way for me to give back," she said.

The giving won't stop this afternoon.

In fact, organization officials said they are still trying to pay for the thousands of toys and treats given away.

Salvation Army Commander Maj. Andrew Wiley said the group lost a week of fundraising due to a late Thanksgiving.

His hope is that the next week will compensate.

"Are people giving? Yes they are and that's a good thing. And the giving, oddly enough, has not been bad," he said. "So we're still hoping."

His wife, Maj. Hazel Wiley, is hopeful, too.

But with more than 300 additional children to support this year, she knows it will be tough.

"We have faith. You've got to," she said. "I believe that we'll do it."

Those who still wish to donate to the cause can slip money into the kettles now standing outside many local businesses or stop by the Salvation Army on William Street.