AUGUSTA, Maine. (WABI) The Salvation Army Capital Region Corps hosted a holiday gathering in Augusta on Friday.
It was a way to thank friends and supporters of the organization during their busiest time of year.
"We're in the midst of our big push- the big push for toys and the big push for donations. We are slightly behind in toys that we've received so far this year, and of course there need has only gone up with the number of families that were expecting to serve in the Augusta-Waterville area this year," said Captain Scott Murray, Capital Region Corps Officer.
On top of the toy drive, volunteers are ringing bells and collecting donations on street corners and outside shopping centers across the state as part of the annual Red Kettle campaign.
"I am flabbergasted by the generosity of Mainers."
Major Raphael Jackson, the Divisional Leader of Salvation Army Northern New England, says he's blown away year after year by the giving spirit of locals.
"We're just thankful for the people that continue to trust in us and believe in us and allow us to do the most good. I just want to say 'thank you.' Thank you," said Jackson.
Capital Region Corps officer Lt. Anagelys Cruz is thankful for the opportunity to help provide hurricane relief efforts this Christmas season where she was born.
"I am originally from Puerto Rico. I've been here in Augusta for a year," said Cruz.
She recently returned from Puerto Rico to help locals recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria.
"I went there for two weeks and helped Puerto Ricans. I gave food, water. It was a really good experience. As the Salvation Army, that's part of our program."
Those relief efforts are part of the Emergency Disaster Services program in which the organization helps feed, shelter, distribute clothing, and counsel those in need.
"We helped a lot of people because the devastation is real. And even after 50 something days after he hurricane, the need is real. People are still without power. People are still without water. People are still without basic needs."
Cruz says a dollar goes a long way to help and that Puerto Ricans are in need of that joyful Christmas spirit embodied in the generosity of Mainers now, maybe more than ever.