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      Salvation Army helps parents play 'Santa'

      You hear the bells ringing outside storefronts all holiday season.

      But on Tuesday there was a perfect example of what those donations to the Salvation Army mean to Toledo as local families in need had the opportunity to stock up on holiday treasures for their kids.

      Freezing, below-average temperatures did not stop parents from lining up for the Salvation Army's Christmas Distribution.

      "Standing in the cold was worth it especially for six kids," said Patricia Hamilton.

      Inside the Erie Street Market were toys and games for kids of all ages. Parents were invited to fill up a huge sack and play Santa.

      "We got a lot of Legos let's just say that," said Patricia Hamilton.

      "A lot of Legos and build-a-blocks for the kids," said Cole Hamilton.

      A true blessing for families who would not otherwise be able to fill up the space underneath the Christmas tree.

      "It helps out a lot. Especially when the economy is the way it is," said Patricia Hamilton.

      The Salvation Army says events like this are why the organization exists.

      "We in the Salvation Army get to help our neighbors through a season that requires sometimes assistance so it warms our hearts to be able to come alongside our neighbors to help them in this way," said Captain Steven Lopes, The Salvation Army.

      But the event would not be possible without community donations and help from local businesses and volunteers.

      "It's been a lot of hours we've put in. Basically the local community has helped out greatly: donating toys and having monetary donations so we can go buy toys for the families that need help," said Sergeant Mike Buikema, The Salvation Army.

      Salvation Army employees and volunteers will not get to be there to see the smiles of delight as children open their gifts Christmas Day but, they say, the looks of joy and gratitude on the faces of parents is enough.

      "It's a great feeling," said Buikema. "There's nothing like it. Seeing the satisfaction and joy on people's faces. You just can't do better than that. So it's great."

      The Salvation Army makes sure they are helping those who need it most. Families were registered for Tuesday's program.