By Brandon Martin
The Salvation Army in Martinsville held their annual toy distribution from their Angel Tree program on Dec. 21.
Unlike most years, the organization changed the process for receiving toys to a drive-thru format due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The agency recently distributed toys to 500 children, according to Lt. Ashley Mumford, corps officer for the Salvation Army. “That’s about 200 families.”
She estimated the agency served 50 families per hour.
Many of the toys were received later than normal this year, partly because of the pandemic and limitations on shopping. Earlier in the month, the Salvation Army was still in need of approximately 150 toys to reach their goal.
A $5,000 donation from Barry Nelson, owner of Autos By Nelson, helped fill that need. The donation was broken down into gift cards that provided about $75 per child. Volunteers from Stone Memorial Baptist Church, the Martinsville-Henry County YMCA and the Rotary Club of Martinsville helped shop for the toys.
“We could not have done that without the support of this community,” Mumford said. “This community really showed out for these kids. We just want to thank each and every organization, company and civic organization that plucked angels and filled those for us.”
“On behalf of Martinsville City Council, our City Manager Leon Towarnicki and the city staff, I thank the Salvation Army for what they do for our community,” Mayor Kathy Lawson said. “Reaching out and helping others is so meaningful this time of year.”
In addition to the toys from the Angel Tree, toys also were donated from Widows for Christ in Reidsville, N.C.
“We try to give every kid at least three toys. If a kid comes in and only has a couple of toys from the Angel Tree, we can supplement with what we have,” Mumford said. “Our toys just might not be exactly what the kid asked for.”
Members of the Martinsville Police Department and Martinsville Sheriff’s Office also were on hand to direct traffic and help distribute toys.
Families were assigned a number and once called, they proceeded around the Salvation Army building to receive their gifts.
Inmates worked inside of the building to help organize the boxes and gifts, while uniformed officers and other volunteers distributed the items to the families.
Martinsville Sheriff Steve Draper said seven inmates from the city helped with the toy distribution.
“They’ve been helping all along, ever since the Salvation Army started preparing for this,” he said. “The inmates have been fantastic.”