Friday, 07 December 2012 01:05

Angels Among Us

Written by  Rachel Fisher
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The Salvation Army Blesses the Needy at Christmas

Whether or not you have children of your own, it’s hard to overlook the giddy grins and sheer excitement that illuminates from them during this time of year. For most of us, the children we know will have full stockings and bellies, not to mention a Christmas tree bursting with gifts they can’t wait to unwrap on December 25th. 

 

To imagine a Christmas where gifts and a full plate of food are an uncertainty is difficult, but the truth is that for many children and their families it is their reality.  The Salvation Army doesn’t want Christmas morning to be just like any other morning for these families.

This Christmas, in the River Region alone, thousands of families will be blessed by the Salvation Army and their long standing Angel Tree program. For over 30 years, the Angel Tree program has given an opportunity for people to help local families and children in need during the holidays by providing gifts for them.

In 1979, Majors Charles and Shirley White were working with the Salvation Army in Lynchburg, Virginia. They wanted to provide clothing and toys for children in need and decided to start by gathering greeting cards with photographs of angels and having children write inside what their needs were. The cards were then placed on a Christmas tree at a local shopping mall where shoppers would stop, take a card and bring the gift and card back to the tree. That year, 700 children were able to have a Christmas that wouldn’t be like “every other morning.”  Over time, the idea of the “Angel Tree” caught on and spread across the country to become a Christmas tradition of the Salvation Army.

Today, the program has touched the lives of millions of children and has given anyone who wishes to be a part an opportunity to give to those in need in their own local communities.

The short and simple purpose of the Angel Tree program is, “to bring Christmas cheer to needy families and their children,” explains Becky Gilliam, the Corps Officer at the Montgomery Salvation Army.

“Each year, we give parents an opportunity to sign up to participate in the program so we can help them with gifts for their children. We know gifts are not a necessity, but we know it brightens their Christmas and shows them someone cares about them.”

Because the Salvation Army is a Christian organization, Becky explains their motivation goes much deeper than just helping provide gifts. “We care because Jesus compels us to care for those in need. This is just another avenue for us to reach out in the name of Jesus.”

Patty Price, the Angel Tree Coordinator for the last several years in Montgomery, says this year they are serving over 1200 children in Montgomery county alone. They also serve children in Autauga and Elmore counties. Patty has worked with the families and explains the process they go through to qualify for Angel Tree. “This year, if we have helped the family more than once, we refer them to another organization.  This has allowed us to reach more children,” explains Patty. “We want to give all the parents who need it an opportunity for their children to have gifts to open on Christmas morning.”

To “adopt” a child from the Angel Tree program is one way anyone can give back this Christmas, whether as a family or as an individual.  The “Tags” contain a child’s name, age, sizes and one gift that is on their Christmas list. You can pick up a tag at the Salvation Army on Ann Street or at the locations listed below. Patty and Becky ask that the gifts be returned unwrapped by December 10th to the location listed on the back of the tag with the child’s name you pick!

 

 

Participating Hardees Locations:

 

1115 Coliseum Blvd, Montgomery

334-271-1038

 

5101 Vaughn Rd, Montgomery

334-270-8557

 

5401 Atlanta Hwy, Montgomery

334-272-1191

 

2715 Taylor Rd, Montgomery

334-272-2004

 

906 Ann St, Montgomery

34-262-0650

 

1183 West South Blvd, Montgomery

334-281-7367

 

1041 Perry Hill Rd, Montgomery

334-244-8989

 

Angel Trees are also located at all area Wal-Mart locations.

           

On December 18th, the families will come to the distribution center on McGehee Road and pick up the gifts that caring individuals have given to each of these children. Becky explains that this year they will also be handing out food and stuffed stockings to the families along with the Angel Tree gifts.

 

“All of the families are so grateful,” explains Patty. “They come with tears in their eyes knowing their children wouldn’t get anything for Christmas if it wasn’t for this opportunity.”

 

Volunteer Opportunities

Throughout the year, and especially at Christmas, the Salvation Army relies heavily on volunteers. Businesses, organizations, clubs, individuals and families are needed even now for the work that is to be done this Christmas and beyond!

 Becky says two of the most popular ways to serve are at the Soup Kitchen where they serve lunch daily or at the kettle ringing the bell and collecting donations that go to not only support the Angel Tree Program, but all of the other ways the Salvation Army is serving our community.  There is also a need for volunteers on the day of the Distribution of Angel Tree gifts to the families.

To find out how you can be involved in serving with the Salvation Army, contact Becky at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by calling 334.313.5382.

 

 

Rachel Fisher loves to hear about what God is doing in our community and write about it. She and her husband, Chase, are members of Strong Tower at Washington Park, a church plant of Common Ground Montgomery.

 

**Photo of Patty Price and Officer Becky Gilliam by Savannah Bowden.

Last modified on Friday, 07 December 2012 01:07
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