The Meaning Behind the Newswest 9-Salvation Army Toy Drive - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: |

The Meaning Behind the Newswest 9-Salvation Army Toy Drive

by Stephanie Mills
Newswest 9

MIDLAND/ODESSA - The Newswest 9 - Salvation Army Toy Drive has been around for more than 20 years. It's allowed thousands of families in need to receive gifts, they wouldn't normally be able to afford for the holidays.

Major Tex Ellis Jr., with the Salvation Army Corps of Midland, says, "It's been a partnership with the Salvation Army and Channel 9 since the very first year."

The reason behind the Toy Drive is what's called the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program. Families in need go through an application process. The Salvation Army takes that information and it's put on angels. The angels then go onto trees around the community. The public can adopts these families and buys them gifts. Then they bring the items back to the Salvation Army to be distributed.

Major Ellis, explains how the Toy Drive is involved, "What the toy drive does is it helps us ensure that every child gets those gifts, that every child gets an equal amount of gifts, and it's an integral part of the Christmas program at the Salvation Army. It's a chance for the community to come together and support a very worthy program during the holidays that helps children and families around the area that are less fortunate than others."

Lt. Joe Contreras is the Commanding Officer of the Odessa Corps. He says, "We're in a really giving community. The people really care."

With the Permian Basin experiencing a boom in population, the amount of needy families is also increasing.

Lt. Contreras says, "Well, the demand's gone up. You know, we've had a lot of people come to our office in need of services."

The program has expanded into the Big Spring Salvation Army. Also, many new businesses have joined in the effort this year. This program has a personal meaning in Lt. Contreras' life, having been helped by this same program growing up.

Lt. Contreras says, "For me to turn around and help others who are going through what I've been through it really hits home."

And if you're on the fence about becoming a part of the Toy Drive, Major Ellis has a message for you, "If you feel like it's something you might what to do you should probably go ahead and do it. It helps a child, it helps a family provide for those children, we do a lot of senior citizens, as well. That's an unknown part of the program. It's things they'll remember the rest of their life."

Lt. Contreras says, "People need help. You can make that difference, you can make that impact in their life. In my previous appointment, we didn't have toy drives like this, we didn't have those things. We would spend upwards to $10,000-15,000 a year buying toys to give to these families. Out here we don't have to worry about that because the people are so giving. It helps so much, I can't even express how much it does."

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