With temperatures dropping and trees and lights going up, many in the Muscatine area are beginning to think about Christmas.

For some, that means shopping in stores and online. For others, there is a feeling of fear and uncertainty that settles in. For those who may not be able to provide the Christmas that they would like for their children, the Salvation Army of Muscatine is available to help.

For the 2016 Christmas season, the Salvation Army of Muscatine was able to provide assistance to 397 area families. Those families included 714 children ages infant through 18. When all of those children and adults are added together, a total of 1,320 area individuals received assistance.

For families that include adults only, assistance comes in the form of a food basket to provide a holiday meal, as well as food to last a few days beyond the holiday.

For families that include children, the assistance may include a food basket as well as toys, hats, gloves, and small gifts for any minors living in the home.

Traditionally, families who have signed up for assistance received a prepackaged bag that included toys for the age and gender of child they have in their home.

New this year, the Salvation Army of Muscatine will be bringing back an event known throughout the Salvation Army as a Toy Shop. The idea behind the toy shop is as simple as it sounds.

New, unwrapped toys will be collected by the Salvation Army and sorted by volunteers. Instead of the volunteers packing specific bags, they will be sorting them into categories.

On distribution day, families who have pre-registered will come to the toy shop at their assigned time.  The parent will then walk through the toy shop with the assistance of a volunteer. The parents will be allotted a certain number of both “large” and “small” toys to pick for each child in their household.

The purpose of the toy shop is to allow parents to have involvement in their child’s Christmas, even if they are not able to financially shop for the gift.

Parents will then be sent home with toys that they have picked for their child specifically.

Toys can still be purchased by the community through the Angel Tree program, though shoppers should keep in mind that an 8-year-old boy may receive that gift, but it may not be the 8-year-old boy listed on the tag.

Donations of toys will be accepted during Toy Time at Krieger’s located at West Bypass 61 next week, December 4 though December 8.  After Toy Time, the Hawkeye Hauler will be taken to Calvary Church to be sorted and set up for the toy shop.

For information on how to volunteer, contact the Salvation Army of Muscatine at (563) 263-8272.