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Spirit of giving shines as locals shop for cause

Toys roll in for Salvation Army

WARREN — With the Salvation Army of Trumbull County expressing a greater need for toys for children this holiday season, local individuals and businesses are stepping up to meet that need.

Ruth Cline, office manager at the Salvation Army, said about 2,000 children need toys this year. She said 875 families need help this year compared to 803 families last year.

“When a business or individuals step up, it makes a huge difference. There are many new families who have come to us and have never had to ask for help before. We see their situation coming here for diapers or help with rent and want to help them,” Cline said.

Kelli Funtulis of Funtulis Property Group in Warren took 75 names off the Giving Tree at the Salvation Army and got gifts for them with help from family members, friends and co-workers. Gifts filled the lobby of the business.

“I organized the event. I spoke to Ruth and she gave me 75 names. My family and friends all helped get gifts. I always have someone who wants to help,” she said.

Funtulis said in 2019 and 2020 she got gifts for 50 children each year and this year went to 75 with plans for helping 100 in 2022.

“I feel that my family has always been fortunate and many of my friends, too. We all think of the children who may not get anything for Christmas. These may be the only gifts some of them get. We try to get each child several gifts with some bags having five or six gifts. We see what they want and find age-appropriate gifts,” Funtulis said.

Funtulis and her mother, Sophia, spent Tuesday organizing and packing the toys at the Salvation Army.

She said St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church also has many members who help.

“We want to help people. We work with tenants and see what people are facing. The need is there. Ruth has told me of families facing hard challenges,” Funtulis said.

Cline said they receive donations from Toys for Tots and monetary donations from others telling the Salvation Army to use them where needed.

“When people take an angel off the tree and see the child’s requests, it makes it more special. There have been so many children who have asked for coloring books and crayons and also Lego and other items,” Cline said.

She said on each angel tag is a wish for three items.

Cline said many local businesses have helped for years. She said one 10-year-old girl has taken the angels off the tree for the past two years and asks her neighbors to help buy gifts. Cline said the girl collected gifts for 35 children in the past, and this year helped 50.

“She and others come here and help on the days we distribute the gifts,” Cline said.

Capt. Chris Williams said employees in many nutrition stores in Champion, Cortland, Niles and Girard also donate.

“They all took a bunch of tags to help,” he said.

The gifts will be given Dec. 21 and 22 for those who have preregistered. The Salvation Army also will hold a drive-thru food drive Dec. 20.

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