LAKEWOOD - The spirit of Christmas is about giving, and the Chautauqua County Town and Village Highway Superintendent Association mastered this like a fine art by collecting around 600 toys and giving $500 to the kettle for the Salvation Army.
The day after Thanksgiving boxes were placed around the county in places where people could see them, such as town clerks' offices. From the end of November up until Wednesday, locals could drop off unwrapped toys in the boxes.
This is the 12th year the association held the Toys for Kids initiative, and with each passing year, it grows substantially. Doug Peterson, vice president of Southern Tier Supply Co. and coordinator of the event, pointed to the fireplace at the Lakewood Rod and Gun Club, saying the presents used to fit up on the hearth. Now they sprawl across a corner in the room.
Photo by Mallory Diefenbach
Pictured from left are Capt. John Merchant, Capt. Kim Merchant, Santa Claus, Lt. Daniel Gonzalez and Doug Peterson.
"We knew that these were the kids that would be better involvement, and there is a lot of involvement," said Peterson in regard to why the association chose the Salvation Army as their charity of choice.
The Jamestown Salvation Army will be giving 14,000 children 12 and under presents this year. They will be helping out 630 families this holiday season, providing them with a family meal for Christmas.
"I've been working a lot with the toys, putting bags together for children," said Capt. Kim Merchant of the Salvation Army in an address to the Highway Superintendent Association at the Rod and Gun Club. "So, when I learned we were short 300 children, it was a bit of a heartache. ... This is our first experience with you folks for this annual Christmas event that you do. This is part of our Christmas miracle. So thank you. Thank you very much."
The Jamestown Salvation Army does more than help out at Christmas. Among their many services, the Salvation Army runs a food pantry, a domestic abuse shelter, worship, casework, group work and visitation services.