Thousands of children throughout Chicagoland woke Christmas morning to toys, games and clothes stacked under their Christmas trees with help from The Salvation Army Angel Tree program. The Army partners with individual donors and corporations to provide thousands of area needy families children’s gifts and a holiday food box with a complete Christmas dinner.
The Salvation Army identifies families in need through its corps community centers and social service agencies and provides these families gifts for their children and a food basket during the holiday season. Angel Tree tags, listing a child’s age, gender and special request, are displayed at corporations, stores, banks and other businesses for donors to select. Donors then purchase the items, making a child’s Christmas morning bright!
Distribution days at each corps community center are a sight to behold. Parents arrive to collect their gifts, anticipating the joy their children will feel in the next few days. “I’m thankful to The Salvation Army,” said Michelle Gilmore. “The staff at the Kroc Center helped us create a nice Christmas this year. My children know the holidays are not just about gifts, but at the same time, they would like to see something under their tree.”
The Norridge Citadel Corps Community Center invites parents to shop for their children at their Toy Workshop. Clients are partnered with personal shoppers, including State Senator John Mulroe and his Chief of Staff Kim Stark, to fill bags with toys, games and clothes. Volunteers then load the bags of gifts and a holiday food box into waiting vehicles.
For many parents, gifts secured through the Angel Tree program are the only ones they’re able to give to their children. One particular mother was moved to tears when she was surprised with a bike for her 8-year-old daughter. “She asked for a bike, and I had one put on lay-away, but had to put it back because I couldn’t afford it,” said Felicia Falls, as she wiped away tears. “She will be so happy. This is the only thing she wanted for Christmas!”