July 2, 2016

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Family ‘overwhelmed with gratitude’ for gifts

Nancy Johnson | The Gazette

The Medina family was struggling financially. With three children under the age of 10, all looking forward to Santa’s visit, the mother reached out to The Salvation Army for help.

Lt. Angie Smith, co-leader of The Salvation Army of Medina, remembers the mother’s reaction when she received a bag filled with Christmas gifts from last year’s Not-Forgotten Box.

Lt. Angie Smith and Lt. Mike Smith of The Salvation Army of Medina display some of the toys that have been contributed to The Gazette’s Not-Forgotten Box. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY NANCY JOHNSON)

“She was overwhelmed with gratitude,” Smith said. “We had gifts for her children plus food for her family. She could visit our Free Room for gently used clothing, personal hygiene items, Christmas cards and much more. She also could choose a warm coat for each of her three children.

“She said the family would not have had a Christmas without the help of The Salvation Army and The Gazette’s Not-Forgotten Box.”

Designed to bring smiles to children’s faces on Christmas morning, the Not-Forgotten Box program is managed by The Salvation Army of Medina under the leadership of Lieutenants Angie and Mike Smith, who direct a staff of nine at the West Liberty Street facility.

The Gazette hosts the Not-Forgotten Box at its Medina office, 885 W. Liberty St.

“Everybody knows where The Gazette is. It’s a convenient location with ample parking and it’s a great place to collect donations,” Angie Smith said.

While The Salvation Army implements holiday gift-giving programs around the country, Smith praised Medina’s Not-Forgotten Box.

“We want to make sure underprivileged children will not be forgotten on Christmas day,” she said. “And residents like knowing their donations are going directly to children right in our community.”

This year, 199 families and 468 children ages birth through 17 from Medina, Spencer, Chippewa Lake, Litchfield and Lodi will benefit from the community’s donations to the box.

To qualify as a Not-Forgotten Box recipient, income-eligible families are chosen through an application process that begins in October.

“Those who qualify for any sort of government program are usually eligible,” Smith said.

As an adjunct to the program, each child’s name is printed on an angel tag along with the child’s wish list. The tags are distributed to businesses and organizations.

“Our goal is to give each child three gifts,” Smith said, “Last year the community was so generous we exceeded that goal and were able to give every child five gifts.”

Smith said the hardest gifts to come by are those for the 12- to 17-year-old set. “We’re happy with all donations but hope we will see more gifts for older children this year. Their wish lists include items like MP3 players with ear-buds, art supplies and crafts, iTunes and Game Stop gift cards and sports items like footballs and team jerseys.”

Donations can be dropped off 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Thursday at The Gazette, 885 W. Liberty St. Tax-deductible monetary donations also are accepted. Checks should be made out to the Not-Forgotten Box. Checks may be dropped off at the Medina office or mailed to: The Gazette, ATTN: JoAnn Traut, 885 W. Liberty St., Medina, OH 44256.

Gifts are distributed to the families the third week of December. Every eligible family also receives a box of food.

“The food box is not just for families,” Smith said, “Income-eligible individuals who do not have children can sign up to receive the food box this Christmas.”

Smith welcomes donations of non-perishable food items such as soup, stuffing, boxed mashed potatoes, gravy, canned yams, cranberry sauce and canned fruit.

“We are grateful to the community for supporting the Not-Forgotten Box,” Smith said. “Christmas is all about Jesus and providing for the children in our community is a part of that. No child should ever be forgotten.”

Residents are invited to drop off gifts, gift cards, non-perishable food and monetary donations between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. now through Friday at The Gazette, 885 W. Liberty St., Medina; (330) 725-4166.

For more information, email Lt. Angie Smith at angela.smith@use.salvationarmy.org. The Salvation Army is at 425 W. Liberty St., Medina; (330) 722-6488.

Contact reporter Nancy Johnson at (330) 721-4065 or areanews@medina-gazette.com.

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The Gazette is Medina County's daily local news source, serving the community since 1832. Contact The Gazette's news department at (330) 721-4065 or areanews@medina-gazette.com.