By Erin Smith
On Thursday morning, the office of Families First Inc. in Elizabethtown was bustling with excitement and activity as the Salvation Army rolled into town with bicycles, toys, and food for Bladen County families. With the devastation from Hurricane Florence the needs have been great this year.
Major Mark Craddock, with the Salvation Army of the Cape Fear, said, “Our partner here in Elizabethtown is Families First and work with them pretty much all through the year to get ready for this Christmas season.”
He said Families First assists the Salvation Army by taking the applications and identifying families for Christmas. Major Craddock said this year they are also assisting seniors.
Major Craddock said with the destruction from Hurricane Florence there has been an increase in the needs. He said there are about 200 more families in the Cape Fear region the Salvation Army is assisting this year compared to Christmases past.
“The biggest difference we are seeing is the complexity of the ask in that most years, kids are asking for the hot toy for Christmas and those kind of things. This year it has been much more basic —things they actually need as opposed to things they really just want for Christmas,” said Major Craddock.
Majorie Lewis with Families First Inc. said the Salvation Army and her staff have partnered together for several years for Christmas.
The recipients were excited as they waited patiently for their turn to walk into the office to receive their gifts. Linda Smith, who has four children, said, “It’s great. I’ve come to get the toys for the children.”
Many recipients feel the same way. Tameka Smith had her daughter, Jordan Madison, with her. She said, “It’s great to know they help the kids.”
Grandparents, parents and children alike were excited as they were handed their gifts.