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Salvation Army’s Angel Tree in Florence to provide toys to nearly 800 children in

December 16, 2017 GMT

FLORENCE, S.C. – The old Winn-Dixie grocery store building on South Irby Street in Florence has transformed into the Salvation Army of the Pee Dee’s Christmas Center. An abundance of toys now line the floors of the building for the nearly 800 children who were placed on the annual Angel Tree.

Susan Rodgers, Salvation Army of the Pee Dee major, said there are pieces of paper on the floor of the Christmas Center that represent each of the 800 or more children. Gifts for each child will be placed in the appropriate spot and given to parents during distribution day on Dec. 20.

This weekend is the deadline for people to return gifts for angels selected from the Angel Tree. Toys can be delivered at the Christmas Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The center is at 1611 S. Irby St.

An Angel Tree is at the Magnolia Mall, and people can also pick up angel tags from the Salvation Army location on Hoffmeyer Road in Florence.

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“We’ll sort through those angels, bag them up, sit them in line,” Rodgers said. “Once we get everything out, we’ll go through every row and see what’s missing, and then we’ll shop on our wall (in the Christmas Center) for all the toys we’ve purchased already and try to get something for those angels.”

Rodgers said the Salvation Army will also be purchasing bicycles for children who asked for one and the request was not satisfied through Angel Tree donations. On Wednesday, the Florence Lions Club donated $3,000 to the Salvation Army to buy bicycles.

This weekend, Salvation Army representatives will be busy packing toys for children.

“But it’s gone smoothly,” Rodgers said. “This is a good system they have set up.”

Rodgers said the Salvation Army could use the assistance of high school students during distribution day on Dec. 20.

“All that stuff like those bags, all those bikes – we don’t let the parents back here. We have it curtained off, and when we call their numbers, we’ve got runners who have to come and get the gifts and bring them up to the front to give the parents,” Rodgers said. “That’s when I can use (the students).”

Any amount of time the students can volunteer will be fine, according to Rodgers. Interested people can call the Salvation Army at 843-662-4461 and ask for Rodgers.