Dozens of volunteers consisting of students, veterans, borough officials, and other community members came together Monday morning in the Tamaqua Salvation Army Community Center chapel and gym located on West Broad Street to provide a finer Christmas to hundreds of local children and families during the Tamaqua Salvation Army Angel Tree, food basket, and Schuylkill Carbon Marine Corps League (SCMCL) Toys For Tots distribution.

This was the second of two toy and food distributions held recently via the SCMCL and Salvation Army. During the Tamaqua distribution, more than 280 registered children received gifts via the Salvation Army's Angel Tree Program, while more than 270 children also received toys via the SCMCL annual Toys For Tots program.

In addition to other assistance, 230 needy families received a food basket consisting of a number of food items, including apples, oranges, milk, bread and yogurt. Tamaqua Salvation Army Angel Tree co-organizers Dina Depos and Mel Latham mentioned the great amount of support from the community to provide so many needed gifts for so many children. The total number of families helped between both the Lehighton and Tamaqua distributions exceeded 700 families.

Brockton residents John and Diana Dankulich, who have been married over 26 years, talked about tough times and praised all the volunteers for taking the time to help so many local families.

"Thank you so much for providing us many needed items for the holiday season as well as being so kind and keeping the holiday spirit alive. This is usually a depressing time of the year for us and this really brightens up our holidays," said John Dankulich.

Both SCMCL Toys For Tots coordinator Cheryl Laub and Tamaqua Salvation Army Major Sharon Whispell said the need for more assistance is much higher this year than in past years. Some of the volunteers on-hand were board members and volunteers with the Tamaqua Salvation Army, members and Marines with the SCMCL, Tamaqua Fire Police, students from the Tamaqua High School marketing class, Tamaqua Borough Councilman Steve Tertel, veterans representative Pat Clemens, and a number of other community volunteers.

Tamaqua Salvation Army kettle drive coordinators said the annual red kettle drive is still in need of volunteers to ring bells at local businesses, and encourages anyone to call (570) 668-0410 or stop by the Tamaqua Salvation Army to help. Any contribution of time is appreciated and the last day to help is Dec. 24.

Salvation Army case worker, secretary and volunteer Esther Stofocik asked any families that missed the distributions to stop by the Tamaqua Salvation Army before Thursday to inquire about needed donations.

"So many caring community organizations, businesses and individuals stepped-up this Christmas season to help us support so many families in need," said Whispell. "Times are tough for a growing number of local families. We need to be there for all these deserving families while they struggle through these challenging times, no matter what time of year or season."