Christmas office returns to OnCenter to distribute books, toys, food

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Syracuse, NY, – The Salvation Army Christmas office returned in person to the Syracuse OnCenter on Wednesday to give families food, toys and books to needy families.

Nearly 2,000 families have registered to participate in the competition, said Gina Lazara, special events and public relations manager for The Salvation Army.

“Everyone is delighted to be here,” Lazara said.

This morning, people lined up to pick out toys and books for their children with personal volunteer shoppers at the OnCenter.

Last year, the giveaway was forced into drive-thru due to Covid-19. This year he returned to the traditional event in person with hundreds of volunteers helping families.

Some Covid precautions were still in place this year. Each person had to wear a mask, families were given a specific schedule for shopping and things were more spaced out, Lazara said.

“It’s easier to come in and see what you choose, what you want,” said Tislim Mamadou of Syracuse. Mamadou has been coming to the Christmas Office for nine years.

“A lot of families are struggling to meet their needs,” said Mamadou. “It helps them get food on the table.

She said she was hoping to find LOL trucks and dolls and was happy her kids had books.

“My kids love to read books,” she says.

Of course, Santa Claus was there to spread the Christmas cheer and volunteers helped parents choose two toys for each child.

Private Michael Wicks was one of the assisting volunteers. For him he said it was a throwback to his childhood when he and his father would participate in Toys for Tots with the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office where his father worked.

Helping with the gift has done Wicks good.

“They should be able to enjoy Christmas like all other children,” he said.

If you missed the giveaway, you can always buy a box of food from the Salvation Army Pantry on Linden Street., Lazara said.

The Christmas Office is run by The Salvation Army with the help of partner organizations and an army of volunteers. The annual Hope for the Holidays / Old Newsboys campaign, run by The Post-Standard and its community partners, raises money for the annual holiday giveaway.

If you would like to donate to next year’s Christmas Office, you can donate online until January 31.

Or you can send a check payable to “Hope for the Holidays” to: The Post-Standard, 101 N. Salina St., Syracuse, NY 13202. Donations will be accepted until January 31st. .

Writer Rylee Kirk covers breaking news, crime and public safety. A tip, a story idea, a question or a comment? Contact her at 315-396-5961, on twitter @kirk_rylee, or rkirk@syracuse.com.


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