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Salvation Army of Houston working to collect toys for 13,000 children who are living in 'pandemic poverty'

"We just want to lift each other up, encourage each other, because we all have been down through this last year and a half," said Zach Bell.

HOUSTON — KHOU 11 is working to help the Salvation Army of Greater Houston grant holiday wishes for 13,000 children this year. 

CLICK HERE to donate money or a toy. 

The Salvation Army has an online wish list with Wal-Mart. Toys range from about $12 to $70. One click to purchase and you’re done. Wal-Mart will get the toy shipped directly to one of 4 Salvation Army warehouses across Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties. 

13,000 children is an increase from the need in 2020. Major Zach Bell, the Area Commander for Salvation Army of Greater Houston, explained why. 

“We’re finding that number rise because of what we’re calling now, pandemic poverty,” he said.

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For those parents, the 2021 holiday season is heartbreaking. Their child may wish for a toy like a doll or a race car. But the added expense, Bell said, could literally send a family into a financial spiral.

“This is what we’re here for at the Salvation Army,” said Bell of the organization’s Angel Tree Program. 

For the last 20 years, KHOU 11 has worked to support the program with its Secret Santa Toy Drive.

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“And it allows the magic of Christmas to happen for that child, too," said Bell. "As they wake up, they see those gifts that you, Houston, that you greater Houston, have provided for them. And all of a sudden, they are just what they need to be. They’re a child who said, Santa showed up!”

Whether you’ve ‘adopted’ a child from the Angel Tree or are wanting to give money or a toy, the Salvation Army needs all donations in by Monday.

Volunteers need time to organize donations and parents then need time to wrap the holiday gifts. 

“As we’ve come through all of this, and we’re still going through it together, the thing that gets us all through that is love and care for each other. We just want to lift each other up, encourage each other, because we all have been down through this last year and a half plus," said Bell. 

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