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Angel Tree needs more help

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Salvation Army also needs volunteers

By Ashley Sutter

When we think of Christmas morning we imagine a family gathered around the Christmas tree, a wealth of gifts and little ones shredding the wrapping paper away, eager to reveal the toy hidden inside. They light up with glee as they tightly hug their new doll or push a toy truck across the floor.

But this isn’t the reality for every child on Christmas morning.

“Some kids really just want some sheets for their bed,” said Kathy Humes, an organizer with the Salvation Army, noting parents who sign their children up for the Angel Tree sometimes just request warm winter clothes for their little ones. “They’ll ask for hats and coats, winter gloves.”

Humes said fulfilling the needs hanging on the tree is a big concern each Christmas.

“We have over six hundred kids in Shelby County that are currently on that Angel Tree,” she said, explaining there are other trees throughout town that are not affiliated with the Salvation Army. “I was a little concerned that we hadn’t got enough information out to the public to let them know where the tree was. The tree is located at the customer service counter at Kroger. Kroger has been wonderful about letting us set up there and collect gifts.”

A second tree is also located at Republic Bank.

Humes said with other collections taking place throughout the county, she’s worried those on the official tree may be forgotten. “We are afraid that we are going to have some kids that we are going to have to really dig deep to try to help them for the Christmas holiday.”

Those looking to adopt an angel only need to stop by the customer service counter at Kroger.

All the necessary information is listed on the angel.

Participants, ranging from infant to around age 16, are asked to include their specific needs, such as two clothing items and two toys.

However, Humes said they are not limited to two. Applicants can place as much on their angel request as they’d like and those shopping are encouraged to purchase whatever they want to from the list.

“We ask them to give from their heart,” Humes said. “The angel is a guide.”

If you need a little help figuring out what the little ones are interested in, Humes said take your children or grandchildren with you to shop. “They’ll help you pick out things a child their age might want,” she said, noting she takes her grandchildren along on her Angel Tree shopping trips. “They help me make the selections.”

Angels can be picked up through Dec. 14.

In addition to adopting an Angel, community members can also donate individual items. Members of the Shelby County Marine Corps JROTC collected on Saturday more than 1,000 toys through the Toys for Tots program. However, jackets, hats and other clothing items are also needed. Individual items can also be dropped off at Kroger or Republic Bank.

Aside from fulfilling Angel Tree purchases, Humes said there are other ways to serve the organization, as well, such as gathering and distributing the items.

Those interested should contact volunteers Jacqui Sweet or Jeanine Barrett by sending their name and phone number to kathyhumes99@gmail.com

People are also encouraged to volunteer to ring the bell at their red kettles.

“We ring the bell at Kroger, Rural King and Walmart,” Humes said, noting volunteers ring the bells from 5-9 p.m. on the weekdays and 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Saturdays.

“I have lots of openings for the weekdays,” she said.

Humes said many church groups step up and work an entire day together, but they still need a lot of assistance filling volunteer gaps during the weekdays.

The funds collected are used to supplement the Angel Tree program.

“But we also use it for the assistance that we provide for the people in the county throughout the year,” Humes said, explaining they often help families in need of help with heat, rent, groceries.

“They can come to the Salvation Army and ask for assistance,” she said, explaining they determine their need of assistance on a case by case basis.

The red kettle donations are also used to help families in times of an emergency.

If a local family is displaced due to a fire or other disaster the Salvation Army has clothes and toys on hand to help provide some comfort, she said.

Only 4 percent of the donations collected leaves the county but also serves a major purpose. Those funds are designated for the national level for disaster relief such as hurricanes, tornados or other natural disasters.

But 96 percent of those funds, Humes said, stay in the county and help tremendously on the local level.

Humes said they are desperately in need of the community’s support in their efforts.

“There are so many wonderful resources in Shelby County, but right now I’m just a little concerned that we have a lot of kids on that tree that have not been adopted,” she said, adding, however, she’s confident the community will come through. “Our community has just been overwhelming. The support is great.”

For more information, contact Humes at kathyhumes99@gmail.com.