Christmas has been made much brighter for a number of deserving families, thanks to the benovelence of others.

"If it wasn't for this, we wouldn't have a Christmas," said Jackie Richardson, mother of two from Tamaqua, as she picked up toys and food during the Tamaqua Salvation Army's Christmas Angel Tree/food and Schuylkill Carbon Marine Corps League (SCMCL) Toys For Tots distribution held yesterday at the Tamaqua Salvation Army.

Over 280 families benefited from the combined distribution. Volunteers with the Salvation Army and Marine Corps League were on hand to assist registered families, including carrying bags of toys and food to their vehicles.

"These dedicated volunteers and Marines saved our Christmas," said Cory Matalavage of Tamaqua, who picked up donations for his family.

"The holidays are about giving," Major Margaret Johnson, Tamaqua Salvation Army, said. "The mission of the Salvation Army, which is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church, is based on the Bible."

Major Sharon Whispell, Tamaqua Salvation Army, said their vision is motivated by the love of God and as a leader in Christian faith-based human services, is committed to serving the whole person – body, mind and spirit – with integrity and respect, using creative solutions to positively transform lives.

"Our Salvation Army ministry is motivated by the love of God and to meet human needs without discrimination," Johnson added.

Esther Stofocik, case worker, Tamaqua Salvation Army (570- 668-0410), said volunteers are always needed to help create or help with current programs.

In addition to its community youth, educational and senior programs, the Tamaqua Salvation Army, which receives assistance from the Schuylkill United Way, provides daily and seasonal food donations and other assistance year round to over a thousand local families.

Major Johnson and Cheryl Laub, Toys For Tots coordinator, SCMCL, are thankful for all the organizations, individuals and businesses that helped them provide toys and food to so many deserving families who are struggling to make it through the holidays.