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Families in need get gifts from area organizations

Qiania Igus and her children — 10 and 8 years old — just moved to Salisbury from New Jersey. She’s unemployed and wasn’t sure if her children’s would receive Christmas gifts.

Igus stood in line Thursday morning at Life Church (former location of High Rock Community Church) where she waited to see if her children would receive gifts from the Christmas Happiness Fund, Salvation Army Angel Tree or Toys for Tots.

The three groups were gathered at the church to distribute toys, gifts and food for families in need for Christmas.

The community donates money to the Christmas Happiness Fund and each eligible child receives a $35 gift card. The Salvation Army distributes the Christmas Happiness Fund gift cards to the families.

The Salvation Army Angel tree is set up at various businesses. Anyone can select a name from the tree and provide gifts for that child. Toys for Tots is a national program sponsored by the U.S. Marin Corps that asks the community to donate new, unwrapped gifts for babies and children up to 12 years old.

Families arrived for appointments beginning at 8 a.m. and continued throughout the evening. Some families will also pick up gifts today and possibly Monday, organizers said.

“I just lost my job and having these Christian based organizations give is a blessing to me,” Igus said.

She heard about the programs after her child’s school sent home a flyer.

“It’s a Godsend. I just simply wouldn’t have been able to do it,” Igus said.

Laura Kennedy is unemployed, cares for two disabled children and was unsure if her children would receive anything for Christmas as well.

She found out Thursday her 6-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son were adopted by St. John’s Lutheran Church. The church adopts families for the holidays and try to get them what the children have placed on their lists. Some of the families in need may not meet any of the organizations’ criteria, but the church has adopted families for several years now.

“It made me feel better,” Kennedy said to know her children were taken care of this Christmas.

The number one thing she wanted her children to have was clothing and she knows they’ll get that and the Frozen memorabilia her daughter asked for, Kennedy said.

“This is a great beneficial program for low-income families that need help like myself,” she said.

Clifton Thomas and his three daughters — Tiffany, 30, Heather, 26, and Sara, 20, volunteered for the day to help with the distribution.

His daughters have been buying gifts for the Angel Tree for years, but this was the first time the family volunteered together. The women put aside money all year long to ensure they have something to give for the Angel Tree. This year they collected $2,000 Clifton said.

Thomas, a Vietnam veteran, said they’ve always given to Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan’s Purse.

“It feels good,” to give back, he said.

“The good book says to be a cheerful giver. It’s important a child wakes up with something under the tree,” Clifton said.

Food Lion even donated $1,500 worth of gift cards which were given in increments of $5, said interim Salvation Army commander Maj. David Craddock.

Each family received $10 until all of the gift cards were gone. The Salvation Army also was able to give food bags to families with donations provided by Second Harvest Food Bank in Charlotte.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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