SPRINGFIELD -- A couple times a week, Betty Flanagan packs grocery bags full of food for families in need. She has been volunteering at the Salvation Army's food pantry for six years.
"We've had a lot of new folks every week," explained Flanagan.
A lot of new faces in need like Bobbi Harris. "I've struggled. Places like this has kept me going, kept me alive. I spent all last winter homeless. I even spent Christmas morning alone --nobody in a house with no electricity," said Harris.
This year, though, Harris is determined to have a brighter Christmas. She has turned to the Salvation Army for food and gifts for her two young sons; she couldn't get them anything last year. "It makes a huge difference, because if you weren't here, the volunteers weren't here, where would I be? Starving to death in a corner," said Harris.
In order to assist more people like Harris, the agency needs all the help it can get. It needs toys.
"When you think of Christmas, everybody like to think about a young toddler getting a Christmas gift from under a tree, but we do serve teenagers as well," said Major Norman Grainger, of the Salvation Army.
Aside from gifts, the Army needs a small army to help sort the items and hand them out.
"On the day when we do distribution, we have escorts that take a family member through in order that they can pick from the toys that are laid out," said Grainger.
It's those volunteers, like Flanagan, who make a world of difference to people on the receiving end of that helping hand.
"It feels wonderful. Wonderful," said a grateful Harris.
For more information about donating or volunteering, you can call (417) 862-5509 ext. 116.