In four different rooms sat over 500 red, yellow, purple and green bags filled with thousands of presents to be handed out to families across Mercer County from the Salvation Army. Volunteers hustled through the halls with walkie-talkies dragging bags out to cars patiently waiting to receive their presents. 

“Today, we are doing our Christmas distribution…families register their children to receive the present assistance. In addition to that, we’re also giving out food baskets for each family,” Lieutenant Isabella Porchetti said. 

Annette Castaing, Human Service Coordinator for the Salvation Army, was one of the volunteers running through cars and directing the 25 Horizon Blue Cross, Blue Shield Volunteers on which car to put the patients into.

“It’s very overwhelming. It’s beautiful. It’s a good feeling. To see the families, you know, be able to have Christmas and give that to their kids is a wonderful thing,” Castaing said.  Having just started with the salvation army last week, she explained it to be a trial by fire. “I started last week, so when I came in [there were] a lot of emotions to see all the donations and all the donors that brought so many wonderful gifts, brand new gifts, coats, beautiful coats and stuff like that for the kids.” 

The presents varied from board games to bicycles to baseballs depending on the child’s age or children. As well as presents, everyone received a Christmas meal to celebrate the holidays with.

Zoraida Carmona, the head chef, explained that she has been working overtime to prepare food for the families coming to pick it up. “We give them everything that we can to try to help out, so they can have a very, very merry Christmas,” Carmona said. 

According to volunteers at the Salvation Army, workers have been pulling long hours for the past few weeks, even staying until midnight the night before to make sure that the presents are organized and ready to be put under the tree on Christmas day.