Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Shoppers Display Their Christmas Spirit; There Are Plenty of Last-Minute Gifts, Salvation Army Donations

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Shoppers Display Their Christmas Spirit; There Are Plenty of Last-Minute Gifts, Salvation Army Donations

Article excerpt

Byline: TERESA STEPZINSKI

BRUNSWICK - His baritone grew hoarse, but Frank White's Christmas spirit never faltered Wednesday.

The Salvation Army volunteer called out: "Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Feliz Navidad!" and rang a burnished hand bell with heartfelt joy and passion to all who passed, whether or not they dropped a few coins or bills into the bright red kettle he manned outside the Wal-Mart Supercenter at 150 Altama Connector.

"This will be my fifth week ringing the bell. I've lost my voice three times and I'm fighting a cold right now, but nothing's going to keep me from helping the Salvation Army," said White, who's been a bell ringer during the organization's annual red kettle donation drive for two years.

"They do a lot of good, and help a lot of people. That's what Christmas is all about," said White, who thanked all who donated and wished them merry Christmas in return.

And there were a lot of people to thank. Last-minute shoppers poured into the Wal-Mart as well as Target about a half-mile away in search of that "one last gift" on their list. Cash registers also were ringing with holiday sales at speciality boutiques and small mom-and-pop businesses on St. Simons Island.

"Santa Claus promised my kids a PlayStation 3 and I'm helping him keep his promise," said Kyle Waller, who drove down to Brunswick's Target store from Savannah in search of the gift for his 10- and 12-year-old sons.

Shoppers were lined up outside the door at 7 a.m. when the store opened, said Jeff Freeland, executive team leader for logistics at the Target.

"Toys and electronics are the hottest items right now, especially the Wii [gaming system] and Wii fit games," Freeland said.

The store was "extremely busy" the day after Thanksgiving. Customers have been shopping at the store at a steady pace since then, he said.

"This last week, we've been bombarded," Freeland said.

But the bad economy has affected the holidays, merchants said. …

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