Gift bags presented to seniors

Loyd Bagwell, left, and Josh Ray volunteer Thursday afternoon to help hand out food and gifts for senior citizens at the Salvation Army. CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks

By Tonya Fennell: CNJ staff writer

With a wide grin stretched across his freckled face, Kevan Garrett busily stuffed gift bags at the Salvation Army Thursday afternoon.

The upbeat and friendly 9-year-old was one of several volunteers assisting the Christian non-profit organization with its Senior Citizen Commodities program.

“I like helping out,” Kevan said. “Some people don’t even get presents (at Christmas) so this is good.”

The Senior Citizen Commodities program provides elderly residents with juice, dried potatoes, cheese, peanut butter and various canned goods. Along with the food, the group also received holiday gift bags, which included lap blankets and home insulation kits.

According to Salvation Army Capt. Tammy Ray, the kits were purchased with a grant provided by United Way donations.

“The lap blankets are a Christmas gift from us (Salvation Army),” Ray said.

In addition to the basic commodities and gifts, the senior citizens were also given whole chickens and several pieces of fresh fruit.

“Some of these people have nothing or are on very limited incomes, so, they rely on this program,” Ray said.

A line of cars stretched down the street in front of the Salvation Army as drivers patiently sat in their warm cars awaiting their turn to receive commodities. Bundled up against the chilly weather, 15 Salvation Army employees and volunteers loaded each car with food and gifts.

“We have a really good group,” Ray said.

Kevan proudly displayed his official name tag that identified him as a Salvation Army volunteer.

“He has been a big help,” Ray said of her youngest volunteer. “He even helped direct traffic.”

More than 380 senior citizens will be guaranteed a good holiday meal through the program, she said.

“They (senior citizens) are just precious,” she said. “They are always so thankful.”