September 2, 2014

Elyria
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Not-Forgotten Box drive reaches gift goal

ELYRIA — Thanks to the generosity of local residents and businesses, more than 1,000 families this week walked through the doors of the Elyria Salvation Army in need and walked out bearing gifts.

And families who didn’t get help still have a chance thanks to that overwhelming generosity.

Elyria Salvation Army Capt. Sherry Pelletier said so many toys were collected that there was enough left over for 85 families that hadn’t signed up by the November deadline.

“The community gave so much that we were able to help families on the waiting list,” she said. “If we didn’t have extra, we would’ve had to turn those families away.”

She said the Salvation Army will continue handing out toys on an emergency basis through Monday.

Over the course of four days, local families crowded the Salvation Army’s gymnasium where more than 10,000 toys were collected in conjunction with The Chronicle-Telegram’s Not-Forgotten Box.

Bicycles to Barbie dolls were handed out to help make the holidays a little extra special for those who needed it.

“I’m totally shocked how supportive the community has been,” Elyria Salvation Army Capt. Paul Pelletier said. “Between the community and the Not-Forgotten Box, we had toys flying through the door left and right.”

The experience was Pelletier’s first as the local captain, and one he won’t soon forget.

While he’s been told that the Salvation Army typically serves about 900 families every year, he said handing out toys to 1,000 families went as smoothly as it could.

“We had intervals when people were scheduled to come through, but we still ended up with lines out into the parking lot,” he said.

“Everybody was very cooperative, had great attitudes and was very appreciative. Every now and then you would see a couple of people wiping tears from their eyes.”

Although the toy drive was considered a success, Paul Pelletier is still collecting donations from the Salvation Army kettles, and said in order to reach last year’s collection total of $78,000, the donations still need to be dropped in.

“We still need a little more help,” he said. “Just one more push to get us through the holiday season.”

Contact Stephen Szucs at 329-7129 or sszucs@chroniclet.com.