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      Christmas Bureau starts organizing for Distribution Day

      Volunteers work to organize Christmas Bureau donations Wednesday afternoon.

      Volunteers from dozens of business across Central New York were in Syracuse Wednesday, starting to organize toys and food for next Monday's Christmas Bureau Distribution Day at the Oncenter. More than 2,500 families throughout Onondaga County are receiving an early Christmas present.

      Just about everyone at the Christmas Bureau knows how crucial they are to their community. Alongside toys for their kids, families who registered for the Christmas Bureau will receive a basket of food they will be able to take home to their families for Christmas Day.

      While the Salvation Army feels they have enough food to meet their demands, that say they are shorter in their supply this year than they were last year.

      One of the factors in this slight decline is the Food Bank of Central New York. They have seen a five percent decrease in their food supply throughout the 11 county region. They are one of the primary supplied of food for the Christmas Bureau.

      The Salvation Army says they see this as a 'down season' for their food supply, because people might not be able to spend as much on others once they take care of their own family. Anyone who would like to donate non-perishable food to the Christmas Bureau is welcome to stop by the Oncenter until Monday. Please bring in any perishable items on Monday. They say Wegmans donated 19,000 pounds of non-perishable food items and 2,500 five pound bags of potatoes when a previous supplier fell through.

      Mark Cartini is a volunteer helping out at the Oncenter. "W ell what we're doing right here, this is the area where we're taking out toys out of the boxes they're in and separating them into boys girls or both ," says Cartini.

      Kelly O'Grady " I've been a part of this community since I was born, so I'm very familiar with this organization ," says O'Grady.

      Tom Roshau was at the Oncenter representing the Salvation Army. " I think when the area gets hit with their own economic hardships, it makes it that much more difficult to give to someone else ," says Roshau.

      A fter seeing smaller food numbers that last year, just about everyone out here says helping a neighbor in need is especially crucial during this holiday season.

      "A t this time of year if anyone can give back, whether it's canned food or a bag of stuffing or even donating a dollar, there's a lot of families in this area that need help ," says O'Grady.

      "It's always difficult for the food bank or the salvation army or other organizations to keep that donation level high especially this time of year," says Roshau.

      Tuesday's late registration period, added late due to last week's cold weather, allowed more than 120 additional families to sign up. Precisely 2,563 families will receive services this year, including food and toys for 6,605 children.

      The Christmas Bureau's Distribution Day is Monday, December 23 at the Oncenter from 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Portions of several streets in downtown Syracuse will be closed during those hours so police can direct traffic in the area.