Since 1979, the Angel Tree program has been a prominent part of The Salvation Army’s Christmas support efforts. Angel Tree was started in Lynchburg, Virginia, by Majors Charles and Shirley White, who continued the program there for three years until they moved to Nashville, Tennessee. In 1982, they launched an Angel Tree in Nashville, which attracted significant local and national publicity, prompting nationwide growth. Today, the Angel Tree program can be found in cities throughout the country.
The Angel Tree program is just one facet of The Salvation Army’s Christmas generosity, which also includes the famous Red Kettles.
“The Salvation Army Angel Tree Program of Central Oklahoma is a wonderful opportunity for The Salvation Army to partner with community donors to enable families in our community to have a special Christmas despite their current circumstances,” said Major Paula Powell, Central Oklahoma Area Commander and Angel Tree Coordinator for The Salvation Army. “The annual program matches local business, small groups, churches and civic organizations with children from families in need or seniors who have been especially hard hit by rising inflation.”
Sponsors are provided with a needs/wish list for each person, and the sponsors then purchase appropriate gifts for the child or senior angel. In 2020, more than 3000 individuals received gifts as a result of the generosity of those who adopted Angels. A total of 5382 gifts were distributed.
“There are so many individuals who have their own Angel Tree memory, either as a recipient during a difficult time or as a donor who may have been far from family, an empty nester or perhaps honoring the memory of a loved one during the holiday season,” said Major Powell. “It is always so inspiring to listen to their stories as to how the Angel Tree blesses and changes lives.”
“In 2021, we believe that the need is going to be significant,” said Major Powell. “This has been a year of financial uncertainty for so many. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Oklahomans have faced loss of income, financial insecurity, and social and economic burdens. These same families, who are struggling to meet the day-to-day finances, question how they will provide gifts for their children at Christmas."
Many seniors are also struggling to meet basic needs that are outpacing their fixed incomes, he added.
For more information, visit salvationarmyokcac.org.