By Ukee Washington

By Ukee Washington

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — You can make a big difference for children this holiday by donating to the CBS3 Joy of Sharing Toy Fest. Some of those toys will go to the Salvation Army.

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We caught up with a couple that has adopted four Salvation Army families, 21 people in all, from five months old to adult.

Peter Gardner of Merion Station doesn’t have a beard, but don’t let that fool you.

His wife, Patty Smith-Gardner, said, “He loves to shop. If you look deep inside of him, Santa is in there.”

And Peter has a list. Since 2013, Peter and Patty have been adopting families from The Salvation Army and fulfilling their wish lists.

Going through the toys, Peter pulled out a classic board game: “They want Operation. I played with Operation, and I’m no youngster!”

Patty said, “Remote control things are really popular, so we’ve gotten a bunch of those, and we got three of the tablets for the teenagers.”

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The gifts will be dropped off at the Salvation Army. Major Philip Ferreira, director of operations for Philadelphia’s Salvation Army, said, “For somebody to adopt four families, they certainly would have to have the means to do that. But I think so much more important than that, is the fact that they see the need.”

Parents and guardians often ask for things other families take for granted, like cookware or other basics of everyday life.

“Their lists begin with a set of dishes, maybe,” Patty said, “and what I picture in my mind is, this is a family who has had to cobble together a living someplace.”

“These are families who are in some distress,” Peter said. “They wouldn’t be seeking the Salvation Army’s help if they didn’t really need it.”

These piles are just the start of their shopping for 21 individuals, but you don’t have to buy as much as they do to be a Santa.

“If you can just help one family, that’s a big step in the right direction,” Peter said.

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Find out how to give at

Ukee Washington