Shoppers 'fill the truck' to help children
COAL TOWNSHIP - Through the generosity of area residents, some local children will find a few extra gifts under their tree Christmas morning.
At Walmart stores across the country, Saturday became "Fill the Truck" day and donated items were given to their local The Salvation Army chapters.
Maj. Tina Streck and office manager Judy Orner, of the Shamokin chapter of The Salvation Army, watched while store patrons left the Coal Township retailer with an extra toy, game or item of children's winter clothing and placed it on the truck.
"We had a good jump in the morning, but it has leveled off a little," Streck said Saturday afternoon. "We are grateful though for all the support the area is giving us."
Streck said there are about 600 families who have submitted applications for Christmas assistance this year, with 100 more on the chapter's waiting list.
"Hopefully, we will be able to help everyone," Streck said.
This is the first year The Salvation Army and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. have paired for the "Fill the Truck" event. According to a Wal-Mart press release, collections are expected to provide gifts to more than 10,000 children nationwide. Walmart Foundation also made a $1 million donation to The Salvation Army's national Red Kettle Campaign.
The local chapter was also helped out Saturday by Knoebel Lumber, which donated the truck for Saturday's collection and provided a special appearance by Knoebels Amusement Resort's mascot Kozmo.
At the start of the event, Shamokin's Liberty Fire Company brought Santa and Mrs. Claus to the store to collect toys and donations for The Salvation Army. Fire company members also volunteered their time to ring bells, drawing attention to the signature red kettles throughout the day.
"Every little bit helps," Streck said. "I know that the Lord will provide and help us reach our goals."
In addition to kettle collections and the toy drive, a special auction was held at Energy Liquidators, Coal Township, from which 100 percent of the proceeds was given to The Salvation Army. While the turnout wasn't as big as expected, Streck said the bidding went well.
"They didn't have the crowd that they were hoping for, but those who came were generous with their bidding," she said. "I also have to thank all the merchants and citizens who donated items."
Streck said The Salvation Army will begin work on the other needs for this year's Christmas baskets.
"We want to make sure that there are meats in the Christmas baskets: the hams and the turkeys. That is our next project," she said.