Those serving time in jail or prison will be able to get handwritten cards and selected gifts delivered to their children this Christmas season thanks to The Salvation Army's Christmas Toy Lift program.
Under this program, The Salvation Army purchases gifts and allow inmates to select one gift per child. The children then receive a card, handwritten by their incarcerated parent, and the gift.
The Toy Lift seeks to quietly provide a service to those that are unable, the Christian ministry says on its website. What started as a program for roughly 600 children grew to over 1,500 last year, it adds.
"If you're in prison and you want to send your child a gift, this service is more than welcome," Don Winkler, Coordinator of Christmas Toy Lift, said in a statement. "The Christmas Toy Lift brings joy to children that otherwise would have to go without."
The Christmas Toy Lift is supported in part by donations to the Tree of Lights campaign. For the past 10 years, it has provided jailed family members of Sarpy and Douglas County Correctional Centers in Nebraska the chance to give their children Christmas gifts.
Meanwhile, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley will be joined by officials of the Salvation Army on the Alabama Capitol steps to launch the 2012 Christmas Kettle Campaign in Montgomery. Bentley will launch the 2012 campaign during a news conference at 11 a.m. Monday, the newswire said.
The McHenry County, Ill., chapter of The Salvation Army also kicked off its Red Kettle campaign on Friday.
The annual fund-raising campaign normally starts each year on the Friday after Thanksgiving and ends on Christmas Eve. Every year, hundreds of volunteers ring bells at red kettles in hopes of reaching the army's holiday fundraising goal.
The Salvation Army serves about 30 million people every year, providing food, clothing and toys to poor families.
The red kettle campaign goes back to 1891, when Joseph McFee, a Salvation Army captain in San Francisco wanted to help the city's poor. He had a desire to give Christmas supper to at least 1,000 poor people, but had no money.
McFee prayed about it. Recalling his days as a sailor in England where he saw a large iron kettle called "Simpson's Pot" which would collect coins for the needy, he put a pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing, by the foot of San Francisco's Market Street. He placed a sign next to it that read, "Keep the Pot Boiling." By Christmas, the kettle had raised enough money to feed the poor.