Pat Burgess: Salvation Army volunteer extraordinare -, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Pat Burgess: Salvation Army volunteer extraordinare

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The Salvation Army made almost as many smiling faces as Santa Claus on Christmas morning.

Every year, East Texans help the Salvation Army give children Christmas presents who otherwise might go without on Christmas morning.

Pat Burgess is a cog in a wheel of the great machine that is the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program.

"Do you have any basketballs?" I asked Pat.

"We have a couple, but we hope to get more," Pat replied, standing in front of a box of 120 balls.

"I've been doing it five years now. I wouldn't miss it. It's a lot of work. It's three weeks of work, but I wouldn't miss it," Pat said.

Pat has the first 300 boxes. Other volunteers have the rest. They make sure the numbers match the requests.

"They mess them up occasionally, but we get it straightened out. Fortunately, if someone gets away without their stuff, we have the number and we call them up, and come back and get what they are supposed to get," Pat revealed.

"You want to have happy customers," I observed.

"Always, that's our job," he agreed.

"There's three row captains. We go through and make sure every box has all the children in there, or adults. Sometimes we have adults, but they're all filled. Every one of them," Pat went on.

"So these boxes have children in them?" I asked him.

"Well, they're toys, toys for the children," he clarified.

"Oh, okay. I thought I had a different kind of story here," I said.

"No, toys for the children, not the kids," he laughed.

With that it was time for lunch which gave me a good clue as to how many people it takes to pull this off. Hundreds.

"So a basketball guy gets to be third in line?" I asked Pat.

"When my wife gets to be first, I follow her," Pat said.

"So this is the reason you came in here," I pointed out to Pat.

"You got it. This is the reason. The free food," he laughed.

Five minutes later Pat was pushing around a stack of boxes.

"I thought this was your lunch break," I mentioned to him.

"Lunch break? No such thing as a lunch break," he laughed.

Well, Pat your self-imposed sentence of bringing joy to the world is almost over.

The distribution of the toys takes two days.

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