Volunteers wrap gifts for kids whose parents won't be home for Christmas
(NBC News) -
Christmas is still six weeks out, but volunteers at the Salvation Army in Sioux Falls wasted no time Monday getting a head start on their gift wrapping.
The nearly 500 Christmas gifts that were wrapped today will eventually end up under the Christmas tree of a child whose parent wont be able to make it home for Christmas.
Wrapping paper, bows and toys are in no short supply at the Salvation Army this time of year.
Help is quite plentiful, too.
Major Tom Riggs, with the Salvation Army of Sioux Falls said, "We've got a lot of elves that are here helping us wrap gifts so that we can send them off to children."
The children who will eventually receive these gifts, don't know they're coming.
Major Riggs said, "These gifts are all going out to children whose mom or dad happens to be incarcerated/our elves went out to the prison to visit them to talk to the parent to get an idea what they want."
The "Prison Toy Lift" program has been in operation for more than 20 years.
The Salvation Army says its their way of helping to connect families during the holiday season.
Jean Beddow, a Toy Lift organizer said, "Imagine what these children think, when a gift comes from their dad, who's incarcerated, with their name on the tag. I think its just extremely important and meaningful."
Major Riggs said, "I think there's a two fold experience on that. First, the parent has their fear eliminated. My son, my daughter is getting a gift. The child says daddy still loves me, mommy still loves me."
More than 450 children of incarcerated parents will be receiving gifts this year.
Many of the toys are donated from the Salvation Army's angel trees located throughout the city.
Once they arrive here, the volunteer elves get them wrapped, packed, and ready to deliver under a Christmas tree.
Beddow said, "These are all volunteers. It takes dozens and hundreds of volunteers at the salvation army to undertake the Christmas programs that we do 2320 and without the community coming and donating these gifts, we couldn't do this alone, this is a community effort saying we care about these families too."
The gift tags on each gift are filled out by the incarcerated parent.
The Salvation Army remains anonymous through the entire gift giving process.