Bainbridge Salvation Army preparing for this year’s Angel Tree program

Published 4:37 pm Wednesday, November 1, 2023

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Every year Salvation Army offers its Angel Tree program, providing Christmas for more than a hundred kids in the Decatur and Seminole County area.

Families in crisis can apply for their child to receive Christmas gifts from the ministry if they are unable to supply them themselves.

“Anyone interested can go online to to fill out the application,” said Salvation Army’s Director, Merreann McDonald, “and upload their documents that are required as well through the same application. Applications will close this Friday, November 3.”

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The Salvation Army will sort through the applications and determine who fits the qualification of “Family in Crisis”, whether it be based on income or problems outside of the family’s control.

“It’s for families that would not be able to provide Christmas to their children,” said McDonald. “It is based on the family’s explanation. It could be someone with a diagnosis who has extensive medical bills. It could be the loss of a job for a family or an income provider.”

The community is asked to sponsor kids, with both individuals and companies extending their resources to the program. 

“If people want to apply to become a giver, they can call our office and speak with Karon Elwell.” McDonald discussed a woman last year who wanted to get involved, so she shared to cost of one child. 

The Angel Tree project aims to bring toys and clothing to each child.

“We try to make sure every child gets at least one new outfit,” said McDonald. “We like for them to get socks and a new pair of shoes if possible if we can obtain that information from the parents.” They also want to provide a food box to help feed the kids through Christmas break. “We hope to do the food boxes. If we have enough resources available, we will do it for the families receiving the Angel Tree gifts.”

They do not gift any phones or electronic devices, looking at toys instead.

“We do not focus on electronic toys such as laptops, computers, electronic games, or cell phones. We tend to go more towards traditional Christmas toys.”

To bring the program to the forefront of the community, local organizations will host a tree in their business with the ages and gifts of twenty-five kids for those interested in sponsoring a child.

“We typically have a tree at a local business and one at a church for people to select off of,” said McDonald, “that just makes it convenient for people. They don’t have to come when our office is open. They can get it during a time that works for them.”

The size of the program calls for all hands on deck, and volunteers are requested to collect all of the gifts by December 15. 

“We need some volunteers to help us staff the area where we will be receiving gifts,” said McDonald. “Beginning November 27 through December 15 we need a couple of volunteers to staff the warehouse and be on standby to accept gifts and organize them.”

McDonald expressed that they want the gifts to be from the families, not the Salvation Army. They arrange times for parents to pick up the gifts and ask that the children not be present. 

McDonald stated that the Salvation Army’s goal with this program, as with most of their endeavors, is to help people in crisis get back on their feet so they do not need the program by the following year.