The Valley’s Salvation Army is in need of at least 5,000 volunteers and plenty of donations to keep its holiday programs afloat this season.
The nonprofit organization is seeking donations, including canned goods and turkeys, new toys and items for seniors such as note cards and slippers.
"There are people out there who work very, very hard and still struggle to make ends meet," said Marsha Pearson, Salvation Army’s director of volunteers. "By donating a toy or helping with the volunteer work, that just helps the community get stronger. It’s kind of a pay-it-forward thing."
Volunteers are needed to serve food to more than 10,000 people at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners around the Valley, deliver thousands of home meals on those days to senior citizens or shut-ins, pack and sort food boxes, and help distribute toys to needy children.
Volunteers also are being sought to man booths for "Angel Trees" at area malls from the day after Thanksgiving through Dec. 23. Volunteers are needed at all East Valley malls: Arizona Mills in Tempe; Chandler Fashion Center; Fiesta Mall and Superstition Springs Center, both in Mesa; and Scottsdale Fashion Square.
People wanting to buy Christmas presents for needy Valley schoolchildren can pick an angel tag from an Angel Tree, buy the requested gift for a child and return it to the mall, and the Salvation Army will distribute the gifts to the children. Along with the gift, the child’s family receives a food box and a grocery store voucher for perishable items.
"We provided Christmas for 60,000 children in the Valley last year," said Sandi Gabel, the Salvation Army’s divisional development director.
The Salvation Army also needs bell ringers to stand outside stores.. The ringers will be busy six days a week from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve.
Drop it off
Salvation Army food drop-offs in the East Valley and numbers to call for information or to volunteer:
Mesa: 241 E. Sixth St., (480) 962-9103
Chandler: 85 E. Saragosa St., (480) 963-2041
Tempe: 40 E. University Drive, (480) 967-8649
Apache Junction: 605 E. Broadway Ave., (480) 982-4110