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Angel Tree program underway

By Vicky O. Misa | Vicky.misa@news-star.com | (405) 214-3962 | Twitter: @Vicky_NewsStar
The Shawnee News-Star
Inside Shawnee Mall in 2017, a Salvation Army Angel Tree stands ready for donors to participate in the program.

The Shawnee Salvation Army hosted it annual Angel Tree kickoff this week. Residents can now pluck an angel tag from trees in the city, and make Christmas a little brighter for locals in need.

The local Salvation Army — through local donations — offers Christmas assistance for Pottawatomie, Seminole and Lincoln County residents.

The need

Approximately 23 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a range of social services: food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless, and opportunities for underprivileged children.

How Angel Tree works

• Social service agencies and schools refer families to The Salvation Army for help with Christmas. Also, families are encouraged to apply.

• Participants are interviewed to verify need. The Salvation Army obtains the name of each child or special needs adults in the family and a list of desired Christmas gifts. Verification is made to ensure that the family is not receiving duplicate services from another agency.

• Angel tags are printed for each individual and placed on Salvation Army Angel Trees at area malls and in local corporations and organizations.

• Donors select Angels, purchase gifts and return them to collection sites.

• The gifts are then taken to a Salvation Army Christmas Distribution Center for pickup by the Angel families during the seven days before Christmas Eve.

The Angel Tree program was created by The Salvation Army in 1979 by Majs. Charles and Shirley White when they worked with a Lynchburg, Virginia, shopping mall to provide clothing and toys for more than 700 children at Christmas time, salvationarmyusa.org states.

“Economic pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic will force millions of parents to choose between paying rent/utilities and buying Christmas presents,” the website reads. “In fact, we expect an additional 1.6 million more people will seek our help to make Christmas brighter this year.”

In a typical year, the Salvation Army puts new clothes and toys under the tree for 1 million children who usually must go without Christmas gifts.

Gifts are purchased at the discretion of sponsors; the Salvation Army only provides sponsors suggestions. It is ideal to keep suggested gifts at $30 or less.

For more information, call the Salvation Army at 405-275-2243.