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6 Dec. 18 - Jan. 7, 2011 Charities from Page 1

little or no time to pack,” says Laura Toussaint- Newkirk of Catholic Charities Community Services, which operates the shelter. “Having something new to unwrap on Christmas morning brings our women and children such joy, and we are truly grateful to the community for its support during the holidays.”

Give, receive

With money tight, other local retailers are offering enticements to customers who make charitable donations during the holidays. Niki Pascale, co-owner of NY 54 Pizza in Chandler, is encouraging people to support Toys for Tots via a discount on restaurant purchases.

“Any customer who brings in a new, unwrapped toy receives 15 percent off their check,” explains Pascale. “I’m trying to fi ll my toy boxes here, and this is just an added incentive for people to donate to a good cause.”

The mother of a young son, Pascale is committed to doing what she can to make the season magical for needy children. She knows from personal experience how stressful the holidays can be for families facing fi nancial challenges at Christmastime. “We had hard times when I was a kid, but my

father always made sure there was something under the tree,” Pascale recalls. “It really breaks my heart to think a child might get nothing on Christmas morning.”

Comfort across the miles For other members of the SanTan Sun community, celebrating the holidays means delivering a measure of comfort to troops stationed in harm’s way on the other side of the world. Thirty- year Chandler resident Faith

STSN photo

FOR THE TROOPS: Chandler resident Faith Steele and her East Valley Military Support Group volunteers send holiday gifts and needed items overseas.

STSN photo

PIZZA DISCOUNT: Co-owner Darren Pascale shows toys being donated at NY 54 Pizza in Southern Chandler. The pizzeria is offering a 15 percent discount when donating a Toys for Tots item.

Steele began sending packages to family members serving in the military but soon broadened her efforts to include thousands of soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I got started back in 2003 when I had two sons writing home for toilet paper they couldn’t get,” explains Steele. “I started a group and we met once a month and talked about what we heard from the kids and their needs. Now, we send to anyone that we can get an address for plus other troops when they rotate will send me their replacement’s address as well. Anyone who has a friend or family member over there can send me the address. I am always accepting new addresses.” Steele and her group of volunteers pack and ship about 150 packages a month, containing everything from toiletries and shampoo to snack cakes and candy bars. During this time of year, they also include a healthy dose of holiday spirit.

“I just sent 160 Christmas gifts wrapped in gift wrapping and enough in each box for about 20 soldiers,” says Steele. “We send things that they can be entertained with – videos, music CDs, games, cards, balls. We also send a lot of knitted hats to keep their heads warm under their helmets, scarves to

put around their necks, hand and feet warmers, socks, shorts, etc.”

Steele, who has been dubbed “Mama Faith” by the troops she serves, is always looking for donations as well as for volunteers to help package the items and contributions to pay for postage.

“Anyone wishing to help pack and help keep the pantry cleaned up is welcome,” says Steele. “It’s fun and rewarding. Money donations are needed for postage as each box is $12 to send, and it adds up when you send 150 a month.”

Toys, gifts and contributions can be dropped off at American Family Insurance on 1801 W. Queen Creek Rd., and Toys for Tots is collecting at NY 54 Pizza at 4015 S. Arizona Ave. To volunteer or donate to the troops, visit or call 480-963-4462.

Miriam Van Scott of Kerby Estates is a freelance writer and Chandler transplant from the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached at


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