The Salvation Army Royal Oak Citadel has launched its annual holiday toy shop to help make Christmas merry for families in need.
This week, volunteers transformed the Royal Oak Corps' community center into a dazzling mini-mall. With stars glittering from the ceiling, registered guests have a personal shopping assistant help them select gifts and clothing for their children.
"Everyday we look at our inventory and replenish our tables," said Capt. Peter Mount of the Salvation Army. "We want the last person to have the same experience as the first person. Everyday there are good items, not just leftovers."
If necessary, volunteers will shop for missing items to insure there are wonderful gifts to choose from, Mount said. Last year in Metro Detroit more than 87,000 Christmas gifts were distributed through the Salvation Army.
For Leann Wilk, of Royal Oak, the shop offers much more than toys and goodies.
"It gives us hope that people are willing to help," said Wilk who is unemployed and looking for work. Her husband, Michael, is disabled and they have four children. "We are hoping next year we can be the ones who donate toys."
Each family also receives a voucher to purchase a turkey or ham at a grocery store and a Bountiful Box. Inside the box are items such as green beans, corn, bread stuffing mix, macaroni and cheese and other items. The boxes are made possible through a generous partnership with the Bank of America, Mount said.
"The box helps us to have a nice Christmas dinner," Wilk said.
Inside the bustling community center, social workers are available to provide assistance and there volunteers willing to listen and talk to those struggling with feelings of loneliness during the holidays. Prayers are also in abundance for those that just want that, too.
How you can help
The Royal Oak Citadel will help 500 families have a happy Christmas this year. Donations of food, toys and money are always welcome. Please contact 248-585-5600 for more information.
Gifts for tweens and teens are needed most. Lotions, lip balm, bracelets and crafts make nice gifts for girls in this age group. Boys enjoy military items, plastic model kits and technology gadgets and toys are always popular.
Of course, the easiest way to donate is to give at the Red Kettle locations throughout the city. Bell ringers will be out through Christmas Eve. To volunteer to ring a bell go to www.ringbells.org.