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'We're giving hope': Macon woman gives back to Salvation Army after they helped her as a child

The Salvation Army made Christmas possible for Melissa White and her siblings when they were children, so now she's making sure today's kids have a good Christmas.

MACON, Ga. — To you it might be a few quarters or the change from a $5 bill, but one woman says you have no idea what a donation means for countless people, including herself.

Phyllis Burchett raised her family in West Virginia.

"And the Salvation Army always gave me bags of food," she said with tears in her eyes.

Melissa White is her daughter, and she remembers the hard times.

"My mom was a single mom with four kids and had very little means of taking care of us,” said White, “Coming from an impoverished family, I didn't always have the nicest clothes or a lot of friends, so I wanted a Mrs. Beasley doll more than anything.”

To then 6-year-old White, it was a simple childhood wish. What she didn’t know is that the Salvation Army made the whole holiday possible.

"We all ripped into our presents and mine was a Mr. Potato Head," recalled White.

As you can imagine, disappointment draped over her face, but her mother spoke the truth to her.

"If it weren't for the Salvation Army [then] they'd never had toys," Burchett admitted.

“I remember that like it was yesterday, and I’m not ashamed to admit I’m 52 today,” said White.

Some kids may have stayed bitter, but White has given back tenfold. Now, the sergeant who’s earned numerous college degrees will work in the Toy Workshop, unboxing toys and putting them in boxes.

Each one represents a kid in her previous situation – a kid that may not otherwise get Christmas.

“We’re not giving gifts, we’re giving hope… we’re giving life change. I know, I’m proof of it,” said White.

The woman who never owned a Mrs. Beasley doll says she wouldn’t change the course of events because she IS the Christmas spirit, working to give to others and knowing how much it means to them.

White says the Salvation Army is also helping to give out leftover CARES Act money, specifically for folks in need of rental assistance. You can call 478-746-8572 or stop by their office on Broadway in Macon.

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