Christmas shopping for some Orange Countians this year was in a gymnasium filled with large plastic bags full of toys and cardboard boxes of food/supplies.

Majs. John and Linda Queener with the Salvation Army said that on Tuesday 324 families received bags and boxes and 750 children received three to five gifts each. About 125 bicycles also made their way out the doors.

“We had about 93 volunteers last night,” said Linda Queener.

“We’re probably going to have at least that today.”

Clients began showing up at 9 a.m., carrying approved applications to brave the lines. 

The weather was a bit overcast and chilly, but pleasant compared to last week’s heavy rains. Salvation Army staffers gave away complimentary mugs in exchange for walk-in donations. 

After gifts were dispensed (about 3 p.m.) some 20 senior citizens were tended to.

Gifts/supplies were from the Salvation Army’s annual Toy Coffee, Doll Tea and various other food drives by churches and other organizations.

Although Tuesday’s event was the Army’s final Christmas project, John Queener said the organization will still be there for family emergencies during the holidays.

And next year, he added, “We’ll be doing winter relief, and we’ll have our athletic programs and basketball programs with our Boys and Girls clubs. I never want to use the word ‘routine’ because everyone has different situations that are, of course, serious to them.

Also we will be helping provide food and shelter.”

The Salvation Army also operates a thrift store, which moved after Hurricane Ike from The Cove to MacArthur Shopping Center.

Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays. Merchandise includes furniture, glassware, general household goods, electronics, computers and clothes. For more information, or to donate, call the shop at 886-3194. 

The Salvation Army provides Christmas charities, services for senior citizens, drug / alcohol rehabilitation and disaster relief, among other programs. Donations are always welcome by calling 883-4232, or visiting the headquarters at the corner of Strickland and Martin Luther King Jr. drives.