FAIRFIELD – The Salvation Army of Solano County made the Christmas shine for 1,000 families in the area by having its annual Christmas distribution event Friday and Saturday in Vallejo and Fairfield.
Preparations take months of planning, scheduling and fundraising.
“We start signing people up for this event in October,” said Capt. Jonathan Harvey, Salvation Army Solano County coordinator.
Volunteers enjoyed the experience on Saturday.
Anthony Gonzales came with his wife to help hand out wreaths and bags.
“My son would be here today, he volunteered for the Salvation Army last summer but he is at college,” Gonzales said. “This is an opportunity to serve our community and to serve Solano County.”
Gonzales remembers when the building now occupied by the Salvation Army Kroc Center was empty after the NorthBay YMCA left.
“It was kind of sad to see it empty. We are so glad to have the Salvation Army here and helping the community. They do a lot,” he said.
For Derrick Mapes, his wife and kids would have come but they were out sick with the flu.
“The Salvation Army helped me in year’s past, so this is an opportunity for me to give back to the community in return,” he said.
People must fill out an application and meet guidelines to be able to receive donations for this event. Those who met the income guidelines were put on a list and asked what kind of food and toys they would like for Christmas. In addition to food and toys, they also gathered wreaths and trees for those people who wanted or needed one.
After the initial registration, leaders had a good idea of the amount of items that needed to be bought. The 200 volunteers worked from Thanksgiving through mid-December to organize orders into a cohesive, neat bags and boxes. This part of the organizing is so enormous that the Salvation Army had to do the work in a separate warehouse.
“It literally takes an army of volunteers to do this,” Harvey said.
Funds to make this happen come from the donations of people across Solano County. The Red Kettle Campaign is the one of the big fundraisers every Christmas season. Unfortunately, this year donations were down because Thanksgiving was later than in past years, leaving the kettle season short five fundraising days.
“We are just so grateful for those thousands of people who did donate this year.” Harvey said.
For Harvey this has become a family affair. He and his wife, Vickie, have been doing this Christmas event for 22 years.
“She actually has worked for the Salvation Army longer than I have, so she has done this longer,” he said. Even his kids have gotten into the spirit of Christmas giving.
“They volunteer too. The kids love being a part of this,” he said.
“Over time this project has grown, we now serve Vallejo, Vacaville and Fairfield,” he said.
Reach Susan Hiland at 427-6981 or firstname.lastname@example.org.