Cold crisp air fills the room as the door swings open to the hall. A young boy runs to the living room, wiping sleep from his eyes only to round the corner and find his Christmas tree bare.

Firefighter Association Toy Drive

This is the 27th year that the Tyler Firefighters Association and the Tyler Fire Department have teamed up to prevent this type of event through a toy drive for Smith County Residents.

They accept new, unwrapped toys to give to the families in need. If the toy is battery-powered, they are asking that the batteries be provided.

With all the abrupt economic changes, Christmas spending is predicted to be low. Nonetheless, this year the need is just as great if not greater.

“This year particularly the economy is not that great so we were thinking that we may not have such a good year this year. But every year we thought that, it’s even gotten better,” said Jeff Akin, fire captain.

Akin also said that he is certain that the toy drive will be successful, effective, and will aid every Smith County resident in need this Christmas.

Any of the Tyler fire stations are open as toy drop off points until Dec. 15.

Salvation Army Bell Ringers

The Salvation Army ringers are as much part of the holidays as shopping and spending time with family.

They are ever present outside Tyler’s grocery stores and shopping malls this time of year.

“The Salvation Army is quite effective–not only here in Tyler, but throughout the world,” said Debbie Kirkland, public relations director for Salvation Army Tyler office, “The Army has rehabilitated people’s lives. I’m sure that that has to do with the fact that The Salvation Army is a Christian church based on this theory: “Heart to God, Hand to Man.Kirkland also said that Salvation Army offered disaster relief to victims of Hurricane Ike.

Kirkland described a young girl (Ike evacuee) carrying her child on her hip with a worried face. A simple can of Pringles brought joy even though so much had been taken from her; she and her child were going to be all right.

Year after year, the Salvation Army distributes the toys that are donated to the fire fighters. Kirkland also said that any volunteers are welcome for the holiday season.

PATH: People Attempting To Help

Their stomachs empty and holding hands, a recently laid off single mother and her 5 year-old son walk into PATH for the first time. Greeted with open arms, the small family feels comfort and relief for the first time in months.

“PATH doesn’t have a normal client at PATH,” said Becky Duncan, community outreach coordinator “People who come to PATH are often in Panic mode.”

PATH and the East Texas Food Bank band together this time of year in the PATH pantry.

PATH pantry is set up for volunteers to bag groceries so that it contains a good mixture of the food groups. The bags are shipped to a family or individuals in need that aren’t able to leave their home.

PATH has become a focal point for Tyler citizens who want to receive any help at all. Path offers rental homes to needy families, that qualify, with a low rent and a home. These rental homes range from $250 to $500.

PATH also offers eye care and a learning center. Duncan said that they use one of their rooms to teach the older generation how to operate a computer.

PATH is always looking for volunteers and is currently holding a blanket drive for any gently used blanket. Drop off locations are any Cleaning Co. locations.

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