One of the area's busiest food pantries will combine resources with a national toy drive to ensure low-income Rogue Valley families have food and holiday gifts this year.
Salvation Army coordinators announced Friday they would provide distribution for Toys for Tots donations as their counterparts elsewhere have done.
"Since Toys for Tots typically partners with the Salvation Army around the country, and we have worked with Toys for Tots in the Rogue Valley over the years, it was just natural for us to combine forces," said Salvation Army Development Director Jackie Agee.
"We've worked together in years past to cross-reference our lists so we made sure we were not duplicating services. I think part of why they made the decision to go this route is because there are so many toy drives, and I think people get confused when they want to help out with buying gifts."
Agee said the Salvation Army would continue to stage its holiday trees at locations around the Rogue Valley, such as the Rogue Valley Mall and Walmart, to allow shoppers to grant specific gift wishes for local kids.
Toys for Tots will continue to collect toys as it has in years past as well.
Last year, Agee said the Salvation Army provided toys to 2,300 children while Toys for Tots provided toys for some 6,000.
Jackson County Marine Corps Toys for Tots Coordinator Monte Fraser said the partnership would be an efficient way to serve Rogue Valley families.
"We're excited to be working with the Salvation Army. We think it will really work out well for everyone," he said.
"Nothing will be different for the families. We'll continue to do what we do and they will sign up through the Salvation Army."
Registration for the Salvation Army's Christmas assistance program will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 6-7, and from 3 to 7 p.m. Thursdays, Dec. 1 and 8.
The signup location is at 226 N. Ross Lane, Medford, the former site of the Kid Time! Discovery Experience.
Batzer Construction, which owns the building, donated use of the facility during the holidays to the Salvation Army.
The Salvation Army holiday program includes food for a Christmas dinner and toys for children 12 and under. Those wishing to receive help need to bring identification for all family members along with income verification and proof of residence.
Agee said her agency is expecting a record need this year with demand for emergency food supplies up about 35 percent all year long.
Christmas distribution is set for Dec. 19-21 at the 226 N. Ross Lane location.
For info on the toy drive or to volunteer to help sort and bag toys and help during distribution days, call 541-773-6965.
Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.