CLEVELAND - 'Tis the season and organizations that help make the holidays merry for children hope you are in a giving mood this year.
"Giving at that red kettle is going to be so important this year," said Major Gregory Hartshorn, General Secretary of the Salvation Army's Northeast Ohio Division.
Because Black Friday is late this year, the red kettle campaign will be cut to 22 days. However, the number of Cleveland families depending on the Salvation Army for help this Christmas has grown to 3,200, many who have just experienced cuts in their food stamp benefits.
"It's not just going to be at Christmas that we're gong to feel this pinch," Hartshorn said. "Families are going to be coming to us throughout the year because of this shortfall in their monthly budget for food provision. We want to be there to help those families."
Toy donations for newborns up to age 12 will be accepted at any Salvation Army building and at participating Speedway and Midas Muffler locations. Here are some suggestions:
Newborns to 2 years - Teething rings, Blocks, Pull toys, Musical toys
Boys/Girls 2 tot 4 years - Large Legos, Playdoh, Arts and Crafts
Boys 5 to 8 years - Action figures, Walkie talkies, Footballs, Sleds
Girls 5 to 8 years - Barbies, Easy Bake Oven, Art set, Sleds
Boys/Girls - 9 to 12 years - Board games, MP3 player, Watch, Digital Camera
For a complete list, go to www.salvationarmycleveland.org.
Operation Christmas Child is also accepting donations this Christmas season for children all over the world.
"A lot of these children, this is the only gift they've ever gotten," said Ann Palmer, area coordinator.
The gift is a shoe box filled with school supplies, a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and wash cloth, clothing items like flip flops, shorts or a shirt, a toy or stuffed animal and hard candy.
Northeast Ohio residents who want to help can pack a shoe box and drop it off at the North Olmsted Friends Church, 5665 Great Northern Blvd., North Olmsted, next week, Nov. 18-22 from 7 to 9 p.m. and from Nov. 23-25 from noon until 6 pm.
Because the boxes are going to remote areas all over the world, not all of them will arrive in time for Christmas. Palmer is going to personally deliver some of the boxes to the Philippines next spring.
"This has been my dream to be able to hand a child a gift he's never had before," she said.