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Gifts for Indiana's Needy Children Brighten Holidays

Volunteers help sort and deliver holiday gifts for the Salvation Army in Gary, Indiana. (Veronica Carter)
Volunteers help sort and deliver holiday gifts for the Salvation Army in Gary, Indiana. (Veronica Carter)
December 24, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS – Many people in Indiana have donated a toy or put spare change into a red Salvation Army kettle this season - and this week, all those donations added up to holiday cheer for many local families.

Salvation Army Lieutenant Jennifer Clanton said many couldn't otherwise afford to put anything under the Christmas tree. At one of the "Angel Tree" gift pickup sites, Clanton said there's nothing like the feeling of making someone happy.

"Just seeing the joy and the thanks on these parents' faces that their kids will have something," she said. "Even if it's something small, they'll have something under their tree."

During the holidays, the Salvation Army also provides food assistance to thousands of Indiana families. And those red kettle donations so far total almost $1.5 million.

Passion Petrey has two girls, who are ages six and seven. Tosha Humphrey has four kids, ages one through nine. Both women are from Gary, an area with some of the highest poverty numbers in the state. They said it's heartbreaking to have nothing to give their children, and were happy to be among this year's "Angel Tree" recipients.

"'Last year was kind of difficult, so this year it actually helped out a lot," said Petrey.

"I don't always want my kids to feel left out, because they don't understand, you know," added Humphrey. "They're still young and so, I let them do a little."

Both moms say they struggle to keep food on the table and the lights on in their houses, so buying Christmas gifts is a luxury they can't usually afford.

More than 15 percent of Indiana families live in poverty.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN