WICHITA- Some of Santa’s helpers are busy at work making sure low-income families have presents under their tree this Christmas.
Grioghar Thomas-Baldwin dropped off between 100-130 toys and nine bikes at Salvation Army’s distribution center. His family and a few close friends are one of many who dropped off donations Saturday afternoon.
“We raised almost $3,000 in 10 days with almost 90 donors. And it… blew my mind,” Baldwin said.
He did this because he was once an Angel Tree recipient.
“When I was a child, there was a Christmas that I remembered we didn’t have anything. We had [a] tree and lights and that was it,” said Baldwin.
It’s a memory that has resonated with him for a long time.
“One evening, I don’t know when it was during that time, all of a sudden some people showed up and they had food and they had clothes and they had wrapped presents.”
So, thanks to a couple of Thomas-Baldwin’s close friends and diligent hard work, they were able to buy more than 120 toys and nine bikes. They raised the money through a GoFundMe page he created last year. He raised about $800 from 17 people, then family helped with an extra $300.
“Last night, we made one last run at it with what we collected. So, we got the $1,500 initially and then we had another $1,200 come in on top of that. We had to go spend $1,200 yesterday,” said Baldwin.
Those toys joined more than 20,000 other toys and bikes at the distribution center.
“At this point, we know that we will be serving the minimum of 14,000 people to our Mission of Hope campaign,” said Wichita Salvation Army City Commander, Major Joseph Wheeler. “Out of that total, 9,000 of them are kids. So the Angel Tree program is extremely important to us in the Mission of Hope campaign.”
And it’s important to Baldwin because he personally knows what the kids are going through.
“I am just a conduit between the people who need and the people who can provide,” said Baldwin.
He says next year he hopes more people will donate.
Wheeler says they’ll continue to take toy donations until Sunday evening.