Five things to to know about the Salvation Army Angel Tree program

Jerrie Whiteley
Herald Democrat
The Salvation Army Angel Trees provide families in need with the toys and other items their children request.

Christmas is right around the corner and to help locals who have had a rough year, the local Salvation Army is once again offering the Angel Tree Program. Here are five things to know about the Salvation Army Angel Tree program.

1. Adopting an angel off a tree is a tradition that goes back 40 years.

Information on the Salvation Army's national website said that  the program began in Lynchburg Virginia when Salvation Army Majors Charlie and Shirley White were trying to provide Christmas for underprivileged children there. They put the children's wishes on Hallmark greeting cards featuring angels and the placed them on a tree. The program got its name from those cards and the Whites' program helped 700 children that year. It eventually spread across the country.

Salvation Army volunteers collect gift donations as part of the Angel Tree program. Angel trees will be at 12 locations in the Wichita Falls area.

2. Local angels are ready to be picked up at trees at Walmart and at other local locations.

Major Andrea Ellis said they should be returned by December 12. Those packages then will be given out to families on Dec. 18 in a socially distance and COVID-19 safe event.

3. The angels contain clothing needs and a wish

The Salvation Army provides clothing sizes and needs for the children in the program. They also provide a wish for the child on the angel card. People are encouraged to provide as many of those items as they can when they shop for the angel. 

Inside Shawnee Mall in 2017, a Salvation Army Angel Tree stands ready for donors to participate in the program.

4. The angels should be returned to the Salvation Army.

Those who adopt an angel are asked to return the presents to the Salvation Army by the date on the card. Ellis said the Salvation Army never takes a gift away from a child but by returning the presents unwrapped, those adopting an angel allow the Salvation Army to assure that the child got both clothing and a toy or wish gift. The Salvation Army augments gifts for children who didn't get at lease four things. 

5. Families receiving help through the Angel Tree program are vetted by the Salvation Army

The application process is concluded early in the fall or late in the summer. It seeks to ensure that those receiving help are really in need. It also seeks to ensure that the families are not given similar assistance by other area agencies or groups. 

St. John Lutheran School students drop money into the kettles during the Salvation Army's 2019 Red Kettle & Angel Tree Kickoff on the Ocala downtown square Thursday afternoon November 7, 2019 in Ocala, FL. This annual event announces the beginning of the bell-ringing season. Their goal this year is $250,00. "It's not what we need, the need is greater than that," Major Dwayne Durham said Thursday. This year the drive has an equine theme with different horse names for each of their kettles including Bucket List. The first kettles will begin Friday at Rural King and Hobby Lobby while the others will kick off the day after Thanksgiving at Publix, Winn Dixies, Walmarts, Sam's Club and Harvey's. [Doug Engle/Ocala Star-Banner]