Helping Kids Under Quarantine Celebrate Birthdays

Salvation Army officials in Kinston, NC have reached back to Christmas 2019 in a novel idea to pay it forward during the COVID-19 crisis. Christmas toys left over and stored awaiting the next Yule are instead being delivered to deserving families with children under 12 in Lenoir, Greene, and Duplin Counties. The children involved would have been celebrating birthdays during this time of quarantine.

“While I ‘stole’ this idea from another (Salvation Army) command in another territory, my wife and I feel this is a way that we are uniquely positioned to help take a little extra burden off of parents while they struggle to keep food on their tables,” says Captain Chris Lyles.

So many people are not able to work, or they have heir hours cut back, he explains.

“Our plan is to have the parents complete a ‘phone interview’ with our Social Worker,” Lyles says. The phone interview promotes social distancing and enables Salvation Army volunteers to gather birthday gifts for qualifying children, according to age and gender. An appointment time is given to the parents to drive by to pick up the pre-packed gift items and sign the necessary paperwork.

For now, qualifying children have a birthday between March 1 to April 30, 2020. Depending on how long the pandemic continues, and based on the supply of toys, Lyles leaves the door open for the adjustment of dates as needed.

But the captains also allow for a “replenishing” from a supportive public.

“We are (set up) to accept donations of new toys during this time if the public want to participate,” he adds. “As always, we recommend making financial contributions, but this is another way that people can help if they aren’t able to give financially.”


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