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Salvation Army centers in San Diego wraps up two-day gift event

Evening Edition

Aired 12/23/13 on KPBS News.

Needy families will stop by the Salvation Army Kroc Center in San Diego on Monday to wrap up a two-day Christmas event helping an estimated 1,500 children celebrate the season.

Needy families stopped by the Salvation Army Kroc Center in San Diego on Monday to wrap up a two-day Christmas event helping an estimated 1,500 children celebrate the season.

The center's 15,000-square-foot indoor skate park was transformed for the event into the "Toy & Joy Gift Shop" stocked with toys and food, according to Maria Todaro, director of communication and community development for the Rolando-area charity.

The event kicked off Saturday and concluded Monday at 3:30 p.m., she said, noting parents who signed up in advance walked through the "shop" and picked out two gifts and a stocking stuffer that they can present to their children Christmas morning. The more than 800 families participating across the two days will also receive food for the holiday.

Ezra and Rebecca Snyder were surprised by the generosity. Their care package included all of the essentials for Christmas dinner.

“Green beans, apples carrots, bread, butter, milk, oranges, dessert coffee and miscellaneous candy,” Rebecca Snyder said, looking through her care package. “I’m just very grateful that there’s a program like this to help families in need.”

This hasn’t been the best year for the Snyders and Ezra said they really appreciate the holiday boost.

“Give us the opportunity to have a good Christmas for our children," he said. "And it's been tough … and it's nice that there’s a program here that can help out people that are in need. Definitely during the holidays.

Salvation Army sites in Chula Vista, El Cajon, downtown, Clairemont, Escondido and Oceanside also distributed toys to the needy. In all, more than 5,200 families and more than 1,500 children in San Diego County received gifts from the Salvation Army this year, Todaro said.

Major Rick Peacock is the Kroc center’s executive director. He said toys and food being distributed were either donated by the public or purchased using money collected by the Salvation Army's Red Kettle program.

Peacock said the Salvation Army event is designed to share the spirit of giving during the giving season.

“Been doing something along these lines, a meal or food boxes or toys, for a long time," Peacock said. "And we do it because there’s families out there, who if we don’t do it, there’s kids that’re gonna wake up on Christmas morning, in our culture, thinking Santa didn’t come. Maybe they’ll think they’re on the naughty list.”

City News Service and KPBS reporter Erik Anderson contributed to this story.

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