ENGLEWOOD —This week the Salvation Army plans to distribute toys to 1,000 needy children living in Englewood, Auburn Gresham and Grand Crossing.
The annual event begins at 11 a.m. Friday at the Salvation Army's Red Shield Center, 945 W. 69th St., and is for children age 12 and under, said Lt. Corey Hughes, administrator for the Red Shield Center.
"We have 200 children coming here Friday and this year each one will receive two toys," Hughes said. "Some toys were donated and some we purchased. These are children we see everyday coming through our doors, so we always want to make sure they have a good Christmas."
All children receiving toys have already been pre-screened, Hughes said, "but we will not turn anyone away."
"If a child arrives and has not been pre-screened we will try to make sure they leave with something," Hughes said.
A Santa Clause will also be on-site to take photos and Christmas wishes from children.
According to Hughes, every Salvation Army center hosts a holiday event every year as part of its mission of helping people and serving those in the community.
"It is a bedrock principle the Salvation Army was founded on," he said.
The toy giveaway at the Red Shield Center continues at 10 a.m. Saturday where up to 800 children are expected to receive toys, clothes and a food basket, said Ald. Latasha Thomas (17th), whose ward includes the Red Shield Center.
“This is our 18th consecutive toy giveaway. Children are the focus on this effort. Young people should feel excited, hopeful and joyful during the holidays," said Thomas. "It is important to me that children on the South Side have a good Christmas."
Several items will also be raffled off Saturday. They include radios, bikes and MP3 players, Hughes said.
Thomas said on Saturday that the toy giveaway she is co-sponsoring would also include children from Auburn Gresham and Greater Grand Crossing.
"There are lots of people with giving spirits out there, and many struggling families. We just want to bring those two groups together," added Thomas. “Lots of families that we help [typically] don’t experience holidays like the ones we have. Community outreach efforts like this one are what help keep many families going."
At 10 a.m. on Dec. 24 Englewood-native and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson will join her sister Julia Hudson at the Salvation Army's Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, 1250 W. 119th St., to participate in the 5th annual Julian D. King Gift Foundation Toy Giveaway.