Record Number of Families Request Help from Salvation Army

Updated: 12/07/2012 6:34 PM KSTP.com By: Katherine Johnson

Bell ringer Ernie Ginn doesn't have much money, but he has a grin that keeps on giving.

Ginn is a disabled veteran who hasn't been able to work for years.  When his wife was laid off, his first worry was what to give his four children for Christmas.

"One gift that they can get that they've got, any kid is happy," said Ginn.

So, like thousands of other Minnesota families, Ginn turned to the Salvation Army for help.  

"It hurts a lot when you can't do anything for your kids that you want to do," he said.  "It even hurts to have to ask for the help."

The phones keep ringing at the Salvation Army Roseville headquarters as families add their children's names to the growing list.

A record 17,000 families in the metro area, or an estimated 30,000 children, are in need of toys this holiday season.  That's 2,500 more families than last year.

"Even when there's a recession and it begins to recover, a lot of the folks we serve normally are some of the last to make the recovery," said Salvation Army Commander Major Jeff Strickler.

"They've only got a childhood and that's that," said Ginn.  "To see them have a good childhood, that's the major thing."

So Ginn is giving back where he can.  Ringing that bell in the cold for hours to try and help the growing need.  Because even though he can't give gifts, he has time to give.  And of course, that great smile.  

The toys most in need include gifts for girls and boys between 12 and 15.

You can make donations at any Mattress Barn, Ace Hardware, Walmart, or the Salvation Army warehouse located at 2445 Prior Avenue, Roseville, MN 55113.  The Salvation Army will be taking donation up until December 22nd.