The Salvation Army serving Carson City and Douglas County is seeking gifts for boys and girls ages 13 to 17 during its annual holiday toy drive.
Even with 82 locations around Carson City and Douglas County, including 27 of the Salvation Army’s ubiquitous red-kettle bell-ringers, Lt. Mark Cyr of the Salvation Army said teenagers are the most often overlooked population during holiday gift giving.
“People love to buy fun toys for the little kids,” he said. “Teenagers are harder to shop for.”
Cyr said even though unemployment is down in the area, many families are still living at or below the poverty level.
“People have jobs, but oftentimes those jobs don’t pay the bills,” he said. “We have seen increasing requests for help with rent or utility payments over the past five years, and every month the need increases.”
Cyr and his wife, Lt. Leslie Cyr, work with local businesses to collect gifts for area families. This year, Cyr said they installed their famous red kettles in the collection bins to help make it easier for people to contribute.
“The bins hold cash, of course, checks and gift cards,” Cyr said. “We recommend department and clothing store cards for teens.”
Carson City business owner Monica Pappas of Fingerprinting Express, located at 1958 E. William Street, said she has opened up her store as a Salvation Army collection site because she knows first-hand how hard it can be as a teen in difficult circumstances.
“I grew up with a single mom doing the best she could,” she said. “I’m very grateful for the support my mom and I received and I want to pay it forward.”
Fingerprinting Express is also collecting new coats for the McKinney-Vento Students in Transition program at Carson High School.
Cyr said the Salvation Army also works closely with McKinney-Vento, and said teenagers prefer hoodies to coats and hopes to collect new hoodies for Carson area teens between the two programs.
“This year we will serve 750 to 800 children in Carson City, and many more through Project Santa Claus in Douglas County,” he said. “Between both programs, we will be helping a lot of children.”
Families began applying for Christmas aid in October, and Cyr said they will continue accepting applications into December, with gift distribution on Dec. 22.
“We set up a warehouse where parents can come in and shop the gifts to choose what their child will like,” he said. “Volunteers work with each family to help with gift selection.”
All donations help local families. Kettles placed with toy bins are locked and secured, and QR codes are posted in the bin to facilitate donations by credit card. The Salvation Army will distribute more than 900 food packages for Thanksgiving. While monetary donations are needed — the Turkey drive came up $8,000 short this year — Cyr wants to make sure teens are not forgotten.
“For people who wish to provide a gift for girls, costume jewelry, hair care products, and art materials are popular,” he said. “For boys, sporting goods, sports team merchandise or hoodie sweatshirts are always appreciated.”
Donations will be accepted until Dec. 16. Volunteers are also needed to work with families on distribution day, Dec. 22. Information can be found at www.carsoncitysalarmy.org, or by calling Christie at 775-887-9120.
Toys for Tots also kicked off its annual drive this week.
Officer Alice Valdez of the Capitol Police said donation bins are placed at the Capitol, the Governor’s Mansion, attorney general’s office, DMV and the Supreme Court. The target age group is toddlers through age 13. Valdez said they will be collecting donations through Dec. 16. They will present the donations to Joyce Buckingham of Toys for Tots at 10 a.m., Friday, Dec. 18.
Last year, the drive was able to present 14 large boxes of donations — everything from electronics to stuffed animals for needy children in western Nevada — as well as bicycles and several checks from groups including the Nevada Peace Officers Association and the owner of America West Guns in Carson City.
For further information, contact Valdez at 775-684-5700.