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Toy drive planned; Walmart joining with Salvation Army to help make Christmas brighter for needy local children

Friday, December 7, 2012

Another option to help children in need this Christmas season is being planned by a familiar local retail store and the Salvation Army.

Walmart, 2500 S. Main St., is one of several outlets in Kansas and western Missouri planning to host a "Fill the Truck" toy drive to support the Salvation Army from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. The initiative is designed to help provide a cheerful Christmas for needy area children.

Andrew Amick, a service extension Southeast Kansas field consultant for the Salvation Army, said the drive is in the planning stages and there is "nothing definitive," although he has recently been in contact with some local people to coordinate it.

"Walmart approached us to do a toy drive," he said. "We're working to make this happen. I hope Walmart wants to continue it."

Amick said the Salvation Army wanted to join forces with an agency that holds a toy drive to help meet the needs of children in Bourbon County. Amick added the hope is that this project will become an annual one.

"We can be a resource they can use to meet the needs of children in Bourbon County," he said. "That's essentially what this will be moving forward; an effort to work together and reach as many people as possible."

The event is open to anyone who would like to donate new toys and coats to children the Salvation Army serves year-round. As shoppers enter the store, they will receive a list of suggested gifts to help fill the Salvation Army's collection bin -- a cardboard box shaped like a truck that people may drop donations in. Once the bin is full, the Salvation Army will distribute the gifts to local children in need, a news release said.

"People come to Walmart and they will receive wish lists and be asked if they want to participate," Amick said. "If they do, there is a list of guidelines with a certain dollar amount," as well as gift ideas for kids of various ages.

"It's a wish list to sort of guide people in the right direction," he said. "All donations of toys are tax deductible."

Walmart and the Salvation Army have partnered together for more than 30 years to help support people in need. This year, Walmart and Sam's Club will once again host Salvation Army red kettles in front of their stores as part of the Salvation Army's 122nd annual Red Kettle Campaign that runs through Christmas Eve.

In 2011, Walmart and Sam's Club helped the Salvation Army raise more than $46 million nationally -- nearly one-third of the record $147.6 million raised, the release said.

All donations made to the red kettles and "Fill the Truck" events will remain in the local community and help the Salvation Army provide food, clothing, shelter, financial assistance and other services to people in need.

Amick said a large portion of funds the Salvation Army receives to provide assistance "comes through that (Red Kettle) campaign." The organization also receives other donations throughout the year.

"The money we raise at Christmas is critical to help get funds we want to provide," he said.

Amick said 88 percent of proceeds from kettle donations go toward needs in the local community, while the other 12 percent goes to the Salvation Army "to continue to help grow and provide assistance."

He added the Salvation Army currently needs more volunteers to ring bells and take donations at the local Walmart for the Red Kettle campaign.

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