Christmas in July benefits area teens

WARREN — The Salvation Army is collecting Christmas gifts for teens Friday through Sunday at the Eastwood Mall, in an effort called “Christmas in July.”

“Teen gifts are always the hardest,” said Capt. Christopher Williams of the Salvation Army.

People are often more likely to donate toys or clothing for younger children near Christmastime, Williams said.

A Christmas tree in the mall’s food court will be adorned with about 50 tags requesting gifts for teens, ranging from makeup and perfume to headphones, flash drives and books, Williams said. He said many of the items are needed as much as they are wanted.

“It’s like grandma — you always get socks and underwear from grandma. You don’t always like it, but you need it,” Williams said.

He said the requested items can easily be purchased in the mall and brought back to the Salvation Army collection site. The gifts will be stored until Christmas, when they will be used to fill the gaps in requests from area families.

Kettles will be out in the mall during the weekend, Williams said, and funds raised will be used to help with Christmas gifts, too.

“You don’t think about Christmas now, but it’ll be here before you know it,” Williams said.

He said he is already thinking of creative ways to boost kettle donations this holiday season, including kettles themed with the warring Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes to coincide with the Thanksgiving football game.

Though this will be the first Christmas in July event locally, similar events have been held at other Salvation Army locations, often to gather back-to-school supplies, Williams said. He said other organizations in the area fill that need, so this event will focus on Christmas gifts.

“We’re of the mindset, if someone else is doing it, let them do it,” Williams said. “We’ve got Christmas down pat.”

Last year, the Salvation Army provided gifts for 700 families, Williams said.