Here, Major Lewis Reckline, the Austin Area Commander, explains how to get involved… and just how magical the program is.
How can people help The Salvation Army this festive season?
“We need people every step of the way! It’s a great way for individuals, families, and groups to get into the spirit of the season and a tangible way for everyone to make a difference. Specifically, we have three main avenues for Central Texans to help this year: adopt angels, make a financial donation, and volunteer time,” says Major Lewis Reckline. “There’s something for everyone.”
Adopt: The Salvation Army partners with hundreds of corporations, organizations, and individuals to adopt angels every November. To fulfill adoptions, partners are given a child’s first name, interests, and clothing sizes. Partners purchase new toys and clothing for their angel and drop off gifts in early December.
Donate: Don’t have time to shop at a store but still want to participate? Donors can make a financial contribution to the Angel Tree program. We also have an online store with Walmart’s Registry for Good and a wish list on Amazon where people can select specific toys and have them shipped straight to us.
Volunteer: From October through December, hundreds of volunteers collectively work thousands of hours at our magical Christmas warehouse in south Austin. This year we are in the Brodie Oaks Shopping Center in the old Toys ‘R Us space. Volunteers can help process client applications as well as sort, organize, and inventory gifts in preparation for Angel Tree client distribution in mid-December. There are several workday shifts with some evening and weekend options.
What does The Salvation Army have planned in Austin in 2023?
“Inspired by our Christian mission, we offer the resources and support to lift up our neighbors in crisis. We are the largest non-profit provider of emergency shelter in Central Texas. We run two family shelters in East Austin, and the downtown shelter for adult men and women. In 2023, we expect to once again successfully case manage hundreds of men, women and children from crisis to stability and self-sufficiency,” explains Major Reckline. “Our staff works tirelessly 24/7, all year long to change the lives of those who come to us for help. They are the real heroes and the foot soldiers of our Army.”
What are your personal goals for this festive season …
“Personally I enjoy playing Santa at family Christmas parties for our Austin Shelter for Women and Children and The Rathgeber Center for Families. Handing out gifts – donated by the community for those specific children – is one of the most rewarding things I do all year. Children don’t choose to be homeless. They can be easily forgotten but we don’t forget them. A visit from Santa is a joyful and exciting time all children should experience. We make Christmas extra special for those in shelter.”
And for the Salvation Army …
“We raise nearly 50% of our annual revenue during the holidays. Through Thanksgiving and Christmas campaigns, the red kettles at stores, and year-end giving, we are very fortunate to have thousands of donors give to us during the holiday season. They know we are strong stewards of their donations. We are grateful The Salvation Army shield is so trusted by this community. Through the support of decades of stakeholders, we have been serving Central Texans for over 133 years, and we will continue to do so far into the future.”
To get involved, go to doingmostgood.org/Angel
“Gifts are distributed to families between December 13-17, allowing clients enough time to pick up and wrap gifts before Christmas. During distribution, Spanish speaking volunteers are highly encouraged – although everyone is welcome. By mid-December, more than 8,000 children will have gifts under the tree come Christmas morning!”