CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It was a magical Saturday outside Belk at Carolina Place Mall in Pineville as strangers donated toys to help give Christmas to so many kids in need.
Dozens of people with caring hearts stopped by to donate toys to the Salvation Army’s Magical Toy Drive.
More than 1,800 toys were donated on Saturday alone.
It was in an effort to make sure every child has a toy to unwrap on Christmas morning.
“We really enjoy giving for kids and want to make sure any kid gets a toy for Christmas,” said one woman who dropped off a few dozen toys.
The WCNC Charlotte team was there collecting donations.
Many families in our community are still recovering from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic this holiday season, and thousands are turning to The Salvation Army for support. Across the viewing area, The Salvation Army expects to provide gifts for more than 21,000 children.
“Because they’re facing so many struggles, to be able to provide Christmas morning for their children – it's just a terrific gift from the community,” said one Salvation Army representative.
Employees of JELD-WEN, a manufacturing company headquartered in Charlotte, shopped online and had gifts shipped directly to the Salvation Army for the Magical Toy Drive. Employees purchased a total of 456 gifts for children in need.
"We have done it for years, but since JELD-WEN moved the corporate headquarters to Charlotte in 2015 being a part of the community is very important to us. Where we live and where work, we want to help out the community," said Anna Pham, JELD-WEN.
In addition to the gifts employees purchased, JELD-WEN donated $500 to the Magical Toy Drive.
There's a group in Charlotte that has been doing something special for the Magical Toy Drive. For 20 years, Charlotte Soccer Academy has hosted a Turkey Bowl on Thanksgiving Day to benefit the toy drive.
"This is the 20th anniversary of our club has been part of such a special and impactful cause," said Charlotte Soccer Academy senior Eliza Rich. "It feels really amazing to give back to our community."
The Turkey Bowl increases donations every year.
"It was a great event this year. We asked every person that participated to donate an unwrapped toy," explained Mark Thornton, Charlotte Soccer Academy. "We also went out to the membership ahead of time to see if they could donate some toys."
Charlotte Soccer Academy collected 942 toys for children in need.
High school seniors from the soccer team helped to coordinate the donation efforts.
"It's just great to give back to the community and just donate these toys and put a smile on these kids' faces," said Charlotte Soccer Academy senior Addy Holgorsen.
"Being able to give back and give everybody an opportunity to be happy this Christmas definitely is something that will stick with me forever," said Charlotte Soccer Academy senior Lauren Ruff.
The toy drive is still going on.
Donations will be collected inside Charlotte area Belk stores and Original Mattress Factory locations through Friday, Dec. 17.
Anyone can also donate money online. To help make the Magical Toy Drive even more successful, WCNC Charlotte and the TEGNA Foundation are excited to announce a matching gift up to the first $10,000 donated online.