Salvation Army ready to distribute more than 26,000 toys to local children in need

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TOLEDO, Ohio (13abc Action News) - Even though it is still a week away, it felt a lot like Christmas today as some of Santa's helpers got ready for The Salvation Army's big toy distribution. Tens of thousands of toys will be given away Tuesday and Wednesday. A lot of you were part of making it all happen.

The UAW Local 12 hall in Toledo was transformed into Santa's workshop today. Major Susan Kelly is the Area Coordinator for The Salvation Army of Northwest Ohio and she says this is just one more example of the incredible generosity in this community, "I look forward to this every year, because what this represents is our community coming together to help our neighbors."

Staff Sergeant Daniel Stoll of the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program says the community came together in a big way this year, "What we have been able to do in linking up with 13abc and The Salvation Army to provide what we're going to be able to provide this year is truly amazing."

Everyone's generosity adds up to a lot of help. So far, 26,098 toys have been collected. All those toys will be given to more than 4,500 children. Staff Sergeant Stoll says the toy drive is life changing for everyone involved, "It's about the kids waking up Christmas morning and having something under the tree they might not have had otherwise. It is truly that simple."

Getting to the big give away isn't easy. An army of volunteers made quick work of the unloading and sorting process today. When it comes to toy selection, Major Kelly says there will be a constant re-stocking of the shelves, "This community has been so generous that we will have trucks waiting outside and we will re-stock the tables so that every family that comes here will have a wide variety to choose from."

Back to that army of volunteers. They turned the union hall into a toy store in a matter of hours. While it's a lot of work, Janet Duhaime says it's a true labor of love, "I look at all the toys and I imagine all the faces of the children when they are able to open up their gifts on Christmas morning. This is so rewarding. It is truly better to give than receive."

Janet Murphy has been part of the effort for more than a decade, "I like to help people and there are certainly a lot of people who need help, there are tons of them. It's amazing. It really warms your heart, it really does."

The application process to receive toys this year has already wrapped up. That process usually starts in October, so keep that in mind for next year.