Salvation Army Supplies 622 Lewis County Kids With Holiday Gifts


Thanks to donations, a toy drive and a few driven staff members at the Salvation Army, 622 children in Lewis County will each receive three presents this holiday season.

For many, this will be the only set of gifts their parents can provide them.

“Most of them are working families,” said Salvation Army Captain Gin Pack of the folks participating in the nonprofits’ annual gift “shopping” event. “It just doesn’t seem like the ends are meeting, so we’re trying to fill that need as practically as possible.”

Throughout the day Tuesday, parents who signed up for the gift drive arrived at the Salvation Army in Centralia and were guided through a room, filled to the brim with toys, games, clothes and books. Based on how many children they have and their kids’ desires, they’d walk away with a bag full of goodies.

“I was able to score my son some Legos,” said one mother from Centralia, who preferred not to have her name published. “He’ll be so excited.”

She added it was her opportunity to provide her kids “something they’ll enjoy opening on Christmas Day.”

Ross McDowell, deputy director of Lewis County Emergency Management, who serves on the Salvation Army’s board and volunteers with the organization, was there throughout the day, sporting reindeer antlers on a cap, helping parents acquire their children's Christmas wishes. Many of the folks he’d seen through the day had five or six children, he said.

In general, the people who were signed up for the event were not those the Salvation Army typically sees on its food bank rotation, Pack said, but tended to be those who just needed help bringing smiles to their families for Christmas or other holidays. 

Six-hundred children would receive a book from the drive, Pack said, and as long as they were ages 3 and over, every child was set to receive a board game. Families who participated were also given a $50 gift card to Safeway for help with holiday groceries. 

“Anyone that says they have a need — we’re trusting them on their honor system that they have a need,” Pack said. 

The gift collection process, she said, is informed by the economy and information from previous years on sign ups. Last year, the number of kids signed up jumped by 122.

This year, the event was made possible by the Salvation Army staff and volunteers and various state and local agencies and organizations, including the Department of Children, Youth and Families and Providence Centralia Hospital, Pack said, adding “It’s just a really great group of people who have rallied behind this program.”