Here's your chance to give a child a merrier Christmas

J. H. Osborne • Nov 25, 2017 at 9:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Hundreds of children across the region need your help to have something under the tree for Christmas.

There are seniors in need as well.

The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program is in full swing for Christmas 2017. As of Friday afternoon, more than 630 children (age infant to 12 years old) were awaiting “adoption” by secret Santas. Paper angels (featuring age, gender, sizes, and “wish” items of individual children) hang on trees at four locations in Kingsport. Those are Walmart on Fort Henry Drive, Walmart on West Stone Drive, Kroger on East Stone Drive and the Kingsport Civic Auditorium on Fort Henry Drive.

The trees also include angels that hold the information about the 50 or so seniors in the program.

The number of angels has declined since last year, not only in Kingsport, but for each of the Salvation Army units in the Tri-Cities, Kingsport Salvation Army Maj. Jane May said.

“We hope it’s due to the economy being better, but fear a lot may have waited too late to call and sign up,” May said. “We haven’t turned anyone away, but at this point the only additions we can take are those whose need for help arose just recently due to an emergency situation — such as a house fire, sudden loss of employment or onset of a serious illness. But our hope is that their situations have gotten better.”

If you want to “adopt an angel,” but can’t afford to purchase clothing and toys, you have options, May said.

“We like to make sure each child has three new toys plus some clothes,” May said. “If you can’t provide all that, you can still take an angel and help them and us. Provide what you can. And we will either fill out the number of items, or in some cases if gifts come back in time, and we see, for example, only toys have been provided by the person who adopted that angel, we sometimes will place the angel back on a tree for re-adoption — with a notation that someone already provided toys, but clothes are needed. If only clothes come in for an angel, we’d try to get their tag back out with a note that only toys are still needed. And we do buy gifts to supplement and make each child’s gifts be about the same number. Another thing some people might not know is you can help the Angel Tree program by simply buying toys or clothing and bringing it to us as a donation with specification that you want it to go to an angel. And we’ll use those items to help make sure all the children get a good mix of gifts.”

If you adopt an angel or want to donate cash or generic gifts to support the Angel Tree, the deadline for returning gifts is Dec. 19. Gifts should not be wrapped, May said. Gifts for angels adopted from trees at Walmart stores can be dropped back at that particular store, May said, and gifts for those adopted from other trees — or generic gifts to help the program — should be dropped off at the Salvation Army. Other arrangements can be made, if time permits, by calling a telephone number stamped on the information card for each angel.

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