By Merrick Eagleton
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Thursday was D-Day — distribution day — for the Salvation Army.
D-Day is when Christmas gifts are distributed to hundreds of families in need of extra help for the holidays.
Capt. Trish Knott is in charge of the event with her husband, Capt. Mike Knott. While he passes out gifts, she organizes the process and reads “The Christmas Story” to families at the beginning of each hour.
“She’s the brains, I’m the muscle,” Capt. Mike Knott said.
This year, 262 families in the community were featured on the Salvation Army Angel Tree and adopted by members of the community. More than 70 angels were provided for on the night before D-Day with donations made by Dollar General, Walgreens and other businesses.
“We still have some shopping to do for some seniors, but we’ll get those done this afternoon and get it to them for their party this evening,” Knott said.
Heather Moor is one of those who will be able to provide for her children this Christmas because of the Salvation Army’s help.
“God has blessed us in so many ways,” Moor said. “It’s great. It’s just going to make Christmas so much better for the kids.”
Trish Knott describes D-Day as an experience similar to the Rose Bowl Parade. She said it is special to be able to help people who came in feeling hopeless two months before the holiday season.
“They feel like everyone should be able to provide for their child and then they can’t,” Knott said. “How do they choose between paying their rent and Christmas?”
Knott said volunteers are the most important part of successfully distributing the gifts. The volunteers receive many hugs of gratitude from the families who receive help.
“It just really means a lot to the volunteers,” Knott said. “I get to stand here and read ‘The Christmas Story’ to them but they get to really have a lot of fun.”
Terry Roberts has been volunteering with the Salvation Army for several years, but this was her first year to help out on D-Day. As a house mom for Pi Beta Phi sorority at Oklahoma State University, Roberts said she feels it is her duty to help the community during the holiday season.
“When the kids are off I have time to do something beneficial,” Roberts said.
Organizing the Angel Tree for the Salvation Army is a year round event. They begin in January and evaluate how the recent distribution went. During the summer, the Salvation Army sets a goal for the upcoming Christmas season. In September, the organization contacts schools about families who may be interested in participating, and applications are processed in October.
“In November, we actually get those angels out in the community to be adopted,” Knott said. “And then we basically have three weeks to four weeks to get those back and organized.”
A lack of clothes were given this season, but there were plenty of toys to go around.
“Everybody got toys but not everybody got clothes,” Knott said. “But that’s what the kids want, so we know they’re not going to be heartbroken.”
Jean Mattox needed the assistance of the Salvation Army this holiday. She picked up gifts for her family on Thursday and showed appreciation for everything the Salvation Army provided her.
“Being unemployed, this is probably the only way I have to provide for my children for Christmas,” Mattox said.
The Salvation Army is sure not to miss any details when providing everything a family needs to celebrate Christmas. Along with toys and clothes donated for children, each family receives wrapping paper to dress the gifts and food for Christmas day, including a turkey.
“It’s a complete meal for Christmas dinner,” Mike Knott said.
The morning started at 9 a.m. with families arriving to pick up their gifts.
Sixty families were served each hour until noon. The received their gifts, were able to give prayer requests and listened ‘The Christmas Story.’
“We share ‘The Christmas Story’ to make sure they understand this all wouldn’t have happened if Jesus didn’t do what he did on the cross for us,” Mike Knott said.