Salvation Army's Angel Tree program is angelic gift




Lively blue lights, presents wrapped tight with a red bow propped on top, the green pine wreaths and trees, and even a brown gingerbread man cookie, the sight of the holidays is special to everyone.

But Lt. Joyce Curran, core officer of the Salvation Army, knows the holidays is a bit more special to others.

"Christmas is best seen through the eyes of a child," Curran said.

And how fitting it is for the Salvation Army to have its 25th Anniversary of its Angel Tree program to be highlighted on Christmas Day.

"Some families and children are not able to have a good Christmas, but Angel Tree allows them to experience the joy of the season in a material way," Curran said.

Angel Tree matches donors with children from qualified families unable to provide gifts and clothing to their children during the holidays. For many donors, the personal connection to a child in the community has become a special tradition. For participating companies and groups, the sponsorship program is a wonderful opportunity for employees to give back to their community through a fun and heartwarming tradition.

The Salvation Army began distributing toys in Garden City Dec. 17 to 19, and are still handing out gifts on emergency cases for families who were not able to make it to the facility.

"There is always a huge need for Angel Tree," she said. "With the economy in the shape it is in, and rough times in general, the need is always there, but the community never ceases to amaze me on how they come together, and how they care for those less fortunate."

On the first day of distribution, Curran said about 450 gifts were handed out. Some of the gifts were taken to the families and some came to pick them up at the fellowship hall of the Salvation Army that was transformed into a toy store.

"Who knows their child better than their parents," Curran asked.

Curran said different areas of the "store" were separated by gender and age group, and a volunteer or "personal shopper" helped them on deciding which gifts to pick out. She also added that over 1,000 families came to the "toy store," and stocking stuffers also were given out.

Today, firemen from the area fire department will take on the role of Santa Claus and deliver gifts on their own big red sleigh.

"Firemen will deliver gifts for their adopted families to lucky boys and girls on their fire truck, and provide Christmas meals and everything that is needed for the holidays," Curran said.

Even with all the gifts handed out by the Salvation Army, Curran said it's the community that drives the holidays.

"Garden City is very giving, and I think Angel Tree is one of the ways they can demonstrate that aspect by extending their love for each other," she said.

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