TEXARKANA, Texas – Today, 355 families in the Texarkana area received a blessing to make their season a little brighter when they picked up their gifts from the Salvation Army Angel Tree program.
Major Tracey Czajkowski with the Salvation Army Texarkana Corps told Fox Sports Radio the program kicks off each year in October when families are given the opportunity to apply for Christmas assistance and put their children or senior citizens on the Angel Tree program. The Salvation Army staff of volunteers verifies that they qualify. The Texarkana Angel Tree program serves children from infants up to 11-years-old and senior citizens 62 and older. Families applying must have valid identification, proof of address, proof of income, documentation of any government assistance and birth certificates for each child or senior registered.
How the Angel Tree Program Works
Once Angels have been registered Angel “tags” or ornaments are printed with that Angel’s name, age, gender, gift requests and a code number. Companies and organizations can participate in the Corporate Angel Tree program and adopt Angels to hang on a tree at their workplace, school or church. They can also visit Central Mall and adopt a child from the mall Angel Tree. After the Angel’s gifts have been purchased, they are returned to The Salvation Army where they are sorted by their unique code numbers and distributed to the families.
Ashley Smalley, Community Relations and Director of Financial Development for the Salvation Army Texarkana Corps said this year’s Angels consisted of 757 children, 58 senior citizens and 138 “forgotten Angels.” The forgotten Angels are either Angels that didn’t get adopted or weren’t returned. Through the donation of toys and clothing, the wish lists for the forgotten Angles are also filled so no family has to be told they didn’t get adopted.
The pick-up can best be described as coordinated chaos. Chaos because of the sheer number of families picking up gifts and coordinated due to the efforts of the Salvation Army Texarkana Corp staff and many volunteers. In order to make the process go faster and to accommodate such a large number of registrants, the pick-up is a drive-thru line. This morning, a double line of vehicles wrapped around the pick-up location waiting for their turn.
As they got closer, a volunteer from the local ham radio organization took their number and radioed it back to the command center where more volunteers began searching for their numbered gifts. Gifts are bundled together in large “blessing” bags and tagged with their unique number for each child and family. The volunteer then moved their bag outside where more volunteers loaded into the family’s vehicle and as a final step another volunteer checked them off the list to make sure everyone received the right gifts.
Along with the familiar Red Kettles, the Angel Tree program is one of The Salvation Army’s highest profile Christmas efforts. Angel Tree was created by The Salvation Army in 1979 by Majors Charles and Shirley White when they worked with a Lynchburg, Virginia shopping mall to provide clothing and toys for children at Christmas time.
The program includes Angel Trees in local shopping malls and on-site at area corporations, churches and organizations. The local communities have fully supported the Angel Tree program, making it possible to help numerous children and seniors each year.
The Salvation Army is a Christian church and organization, serving the Texarkana community since 1896. They offer worship services on Sunday and Christ centered, Biblically based programs throughout the week for men, women and children. They provide emergency and transitional shelter at their Center of Hope along with a free community dinner every night at 5:30pm. Additionally, they offer a wide range of Social Services, including disaster relief, financial housing placement assistance, food orders from our Food Pantry, as well as clothing and furniture assistance. At Christmas the Salvation Army provides toys and clothes to families and children who are most in need. Everything is done in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Their promise to the donors and to the Texarkana Community is to be Doing the Most Good with all that is entrusted to them.