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Salvation Army

Jean LeSollen has been helping parents pick out toys and clothes for their children for 16 years at the Salvation Army Community Christmas Center, which opened Monday and will operate until Dec. 22 .

The Salvation Army Christmas store in downtown Longview shut down briefly Wednesday because of a critical shortage of young children’s cloths.

“We’ve never had this problem before,” said Beverly Gilmore, coordinator for the Christmas Store.

The store gives away toys, clothes and $50 grocery vouchers to qualifying low-income families to make sure they get a taste of Christmas giving and holiday fare. It typically serves 900 to 1,000 families each Christmas season, Gilmore said.

“We have a ton of (needy) kids but no clothes,” she added.

Salvation Army officials have run the Christmas store at least 42 seasons. It is supported through donations of gifts through its “Angel Tree” program, in which donors choose suggested gifts from notes clipped to giving trees around the community. Donations also may be brought directly to the Christmas Store, located in the old Korten’s building at the corner of Commerce Avenue and Broadway.

Donations of new clothes for children ages 6 to 12 are especially needed, Gilmore said.

She had no certain explanation for the drop in giving, though she wondered if it has to do with the multitude of seasonal charitable efforts underway across the community. She said she wishes groups would coordinate charitable efforts to avoid duplication and stretch the available assistance to all who need it.

When families apply for assistance through the Salvation Army Christmas store, their names are entered on a data base to avoid duplication, Gilmore said.


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