Angel Tree program helps 84 children

Published 11:08 am Wednesday, December 21, 2022

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As Christmas is the giving season, many charities and organizations are ramping up their efforts. One example is the Salvation Army; in addition to their Christmas Kettle Bell campaign, one of their more notable charity efforts this holiday season is their Angel Tree program. With various trees set up around the community, each one has multiple tags, indicating the child’s age and clothing size. Families are required to apply in advance, with the Army keeping up with DFACS and BPS to ensure they are not repeating families. This year, 31 families, with 84 children total, are recipients of the program this year.

“In years past we’ve had more children,” director Merreann McDonald explained, “… we’ve kind of tightened the restraints, and we’re not serving families repeatedly and year after year, unless it’s a genuine situation, where it’s something with a terminal illness of a family member, or a situation where there is no way for that family to improve their family’s situation.” She continued, “Our goal is to help a family through a crisis and get them back on their feet.”

This year, the Salvation Army has had to deal with what McDonald refers to as “forgotten angels”, or children whose tag was chosen, but the benefactor never returned any donations for the child. “So we go last minute trying to grab those items… I spent my day yesterday shopping, and I think we had about six kids we had to shop for, and that doesn’t seem like a big task, but when you don’t know them, it is not easy,” McDonald said. “That’s probably the greatest challenge, is trying to fulfill wishes for a child’s Christmas list and you don’t know the child, because you want it to be just like you’d want it for your own children.”

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McDonald thanked those that participated, saying, “I want to thank the community for rallying around these children, and making it a priority to do well for these children, and to do it with excellence. We’re very blessed in that people will really provide an excellent Christmas for these kids. They go above and beyond, and make sure the kids have new clothes, new coats, winter items, and toys as well, and they just don’t scrimp on the toys for the most part.”