Angel Tree program aims to help more than 1,400 children in Suffolk

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 1, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Now that the Christmas shopping season is in high gear, the Salvation Army is hoping its annual Angel Tree program will prompt shoppers to don halos.

This year, more than 1,400 Suffolk children will receive gifts through the organization’s Angel Tree program, said Capt. David May, corps officer with the Suffolk Salvation Army. The agency’s partnership with several local businesses, organizations and retailers is vital to the program’s success, added Capt. Delores May, this year’s program coordinator.

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&uot;Because we have been supported so strongly in the past with toys through the Suffolk Cheer Fund, we use the Angel Tree program to secure other items, including clothing and shoes, for our children,&uot; said Delores May. &uot;As children are entered into our Christmas assistance database, we generate an Angel Card.

&uot;The card lists specific information for each child, including age, gender and clothing sizes while maintaining the child’s privacy,&uot; she said.

The Angel Card also includes a &uot;wish list&uot; items, which allows the family to request something special that the child wouldn’t normally expect to receive, May added.

The Angel Cards are placed on trees at retailers throughout the city, where customers can choose one and purchase a gift for that child, she said. The gifts are returned unwrapped to the tree, where Salvation Army staffers pick them up and include them in packages of Christmas foods and toys that the agency distributes to families on or around Dec. 17.

&uot;Strong public participation is critical to this effort,&uot; said David May. &uot;The only way this program can be successful is when individuals choose an Angel Card and return an item to the tree. If the card isn’t chosen, then the child doesn’t receive that extra item.

&uot;While these items are over and above the other toys that the Salvation Army will provide to the child, receiving a gift from the Angel Tree helps to complete our overall program of service.

&uot;It’s the bow on the top of the package.&uot;

Individuals interested in adopting an angel can pick up a card from trees located at any of the following locations: Belk’s, Karen’s for Kids, Wal-Mart, BB&T-Holland Road and BB&T- North Main Street.

People, businesses or organizations interested in adopting larger numbers of angels or sponsoring their own Angel Trees can contact the Salvation Army by calling 539-5201.