Hallmark ornaments hang on millions of Christmas trees across the country and around the world. However, each holiday season, the “elves” at Hallmark make a bigger impact by the gifts that land under the tree for hundreds of children through the Kansas and Western Missouri (KWM) Division’s Prison Toy Lift Ministry.
With an assembly line process that would be the envy of any factory, 500 Hallmark employees have donated their time for the last 10 years wrapping gifts destined for the children of incarcerated parents.
The process starts long before the workers ever set eyes on the toys and wrapping paper. The Salvation Army and a Hallmark employee committee meet in June to select gifts to create the Prison Toy Lift catalog. The catalogs are taken to correctional facilities in July and August. After inmates select their gifts, The Salvation Army orders the items and has them shipped to Hallmark Corporation. Pallets of dolls, dinosaurs, games and other toys are delivered to Hallmark’s corporate office in Kansas City, Mo., shortly before Thanksgiving. Hallmark then provides the manpower and giftwrap for a massive round of “giving back” on Giving Tuesday.
Hallmark also provides a household gift, beautiful gift wrap, shiny bows, a signed greeting card, and the boxes to ship each family’s gifts together.
UPS sets up stations so Salvation Army staff can use scanners to create labels. Then the boxes are palletized and shrink wrapped. Labels do not indicate that the gifts are from Hallmark or The Salvation Army so the children feel like the gift is coming from their parents.
“The Salvation Army Toy Lift program has been a highly rewarding and popular volunteer event that Hallmarkers love and look forward to each year,” said Gladys Brown of Hallmark. “Our employees are able to show up, spend an hour wrapping or packing gifts and have the satisfaction of knowing that they are helping to make the holidays a little brighter for lots of children. Hallmark’s vision is to be the company that creates a more emotionally connected world by making a genuine difference in every life, every day.”
“We couldn’t do the toy lift program without the wonderful people at and the support of Hallmark,” said Major Darlene Harvey, who leads KWM with her husband, Major David Harvey. “By their caring and loving touches, they make a difference in this program in a way that only Hallmark can.”
The partnership with Hallmark symbolizes two great organizations coming together to make Christmas brighter for those who are incarcerated as well as children who are separated from their parents.
“We want every child to feel like their parent loves them and is thinking of them during this most special season,” indicated Major Darlene. “It is also important that inmates know they aren’t forgotten and that The Salvation Army cares for them.”