The Salvation Army opens a “toy shop” for Christmas

HOLLAND – Needy families in Holland will be able to take home Christmas gifts for children this year after visiting the Dutch Salvation Army’s “toy store” this weekend and early next week .

Seven hundred families in southern Ottawa County and Allegan County have registered with the Salvation Army to receive help with holiday toys and food, Maj. Amos Shiels said.

“That’s just over 1,800 children represented in these families,” Shiels said.

Thousands of gifts, all donated by the community through the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program and Lakeshore Toys 4 Tots, have been categorized by age group. Parents will be guided throughout the experience by a volunteer.

In addition to toys for children, each family can choose a game for the whole family, as well as Christmas stockings, winter clothes, clothes, socks and warm blankets while supplies last.

The check-in station for the Southern Salvation Army Christmas Toy Store in Ottawa County and Allegan County.

This is the first year that the Dutch Salvation Army distributes its Christmas aid in this way, where parents can choose what their children will receive for Christmas according to each child’s interests.

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“We love the ability for parents to be able to choose the gifts their kids would like the most, rather than just putting them together and hoping they work,” Shiels said. “This way of doing things really gives back some of the dignity to the families.”

The agency partnered with Latin Americans United for Progress to find Spanish-speaking volunteers to help with the event. Parents can also get the COVID-19 vaccine when they visit an Ottawa County Public Health Department clinic Friday that will be located in the same building.

Instructions for the Christmas Toy Shop for families in need at Salvation Army Holland.

The gymnasium at the Salvation Army Center, 104 Clover St., Holland, is adorned with Christmas decor and the tables are filled with gifts. Shiels hopes that showing the generosity of the community will help lift the spirits of families who walk through the doors.

“It’s telling, the support the community has given the toys,” Shiels said. “It will be amazing to see the faces of the parents as they walk in. We are thrilled. Our desire is really for families to know that they have hope, that they are not alone, that we are together. take care of them, and when there is a need, they can ask for help.”

Families passing by the toy store will also receive grocery vouchers that can be redeemed at participating grocery stores in Holland, Fennville, Allegan and Hudsonville, another step towards increased choice. The agency plans to distribute nearly $26,000 in food aid during the Christmas toy distribution.

Shiels said those interested in volunteering at the Christmas Toy Store can call 616-392-4461.

— Contact journalist Carolyn Muyskens at and follow her on Twitter at @cjmuyskens.