Stuff the Sleigh working to ‘bring a little hope’ to families this holiday season

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5 EYEWITNESS NEWS is partnering with the Salvation Army to "Stuff The Sleigh." KSTP’s Brandi Powell took a behind-the-scenes look at the process and talked to a local mom who said this program has made a positive difference in her family’s life.

"Nobody will know, this side of heaven, the lives that they’re affecting right now," Major Scott Shelbourn, of the Salvation Army Twin Cities and Northern Division, said.

Men and women at the Roseville Salvation Army are doing their best to make sure Christmas lives on.

"There are people that are being helped through this that they’ll never get to meet, but they can go with the joy in their heart knowing that they helped a family," Shelbourn said.

Stuff the Sleigh

"We didn’t really have much of a Christmas but they made it for us that year … They welcome you with open arms. Right now, I’m in a better place, but I wasn’t back then, so I can help as well," Shakieta Whittaker said.

All of the help and donations get organized in what is known as the Salvation Army’s ‘Toy Shop’ where there are books, toys and games collected for children up to 16 years old.

"You can’t put a dollar amount on all of these gifts," Shelbourn said.

"Normally, families get to come in and shop for Christmas, but this year because of COVID-19, families will fill out a wish list for Santa.

"What’s going to happen is, in the parking lot that’s right outside here, we are going to line up about 30 cars at a time, get them checked in, the folks will stay in their cars," Shelbourn said.

Volunteers are stuffing envelopes and mailing 5,000 notices to families of exactly when to come. Then, instead of Santa coming down the chimney right away volunteers will act as ‘elves’ so-to-speak, putting the toys in the backs of the parents’ car right outside of the Salvation Army in Roseville. It will be contactless because of the pandemic. It’s all so that, on Christmas Day, 15,000 kids will get to open presents under the tree, sparking excitement in a child’s life during what’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of year.

"There’s a sense of hope that’s been lost, and of course Christmastime is the greatest time of the year to envision hope in our lives, and so when we are able to give back to a family and bring a little hope back to them, what a blessing that is," Shelbourn said.