The Salvation Army Angel Tree Christmas program, which has 790 "child angels" and 44 "senior angels" available for adoption this year, will hold its annual kickoff at 10 a.m. Saturday in front of the fountain located in the center court of Hot Springs Mall.
"Child angels" are low-income children in the community who are 12 years old or younger, said The Salvation Army Captain Ashley Robinett, who oversees the program in the Hot Springs area. The children's parents sign them up for Christmas assistance and provide documents to show they are eligible.
The goal is that each child will receive one set of clothing, including shoes, shirt and pants, one primary toy valued at $25 or more, and two secondary toys, she said. Stocking stuffers can also be included, but are not required. Robinett said they always make sure that a child who requests a coat receives one.
In most cases, the Angel Tree gifts are the only ones the children will get for Christmas.
The goal is that each child receives $100 in gifts. For example, if a person wants to spend $400 on an angel, Robinett recommends they adopt four angels to make sure more children are covered, and the gifts are equal.
The most common requests for gifts are Shopkins, bikes, superhero items, riding toys, educational toys, Legos, sports items, Disney Princesses, board games, scooters and books.
"Senior angels" are low-income adults who are 55 years old and older. Their requests tend to be for clothing, bedding, shoes and household items. Robinett said some "senior angels" request personal care items like toilet paper.
Robinett said the seniors are important, because they are often forgotten.
"When you think about Christmas, you think about kids," Robinett said.
Angels are not placed on multiple trees. If a person adopts an angel, they are the only person buying for that child or senior, she said.
She said people are encouraged to get together in groups, such as clubs or Sunday school classes, to adopt one or more angels.
People who don't wish to shop for gifts can donate money for the Angel Tree program to The Salvation Army, which will send a volunteer to purchase the items.
Saturday's kickoff event will include a performance from the Golden Harvest Band, with the group's Tommie Webb acting as emcee, The Gospel Light Children's Choir led by Sonya Chittum singing Christmas songs, and a speaker who will talk about the Angel Tree program. An Angel Tree and table will be available for adoption that day.
The other Angel Trees will be located at the YMCA, 130 Werner St., and at Wal-Mart Vision Centers, located at 4019 Central Ave. and 1601 Albert Pike Road.
Gifts can be dropped off at the Angel Tree locations and the Salvation Army, 115 Crescent Ave. Angels will also be available at The Salvation Army office.
Any wrapped gifts will be unwrapped in order to ensure gifts are the right size and appropriate for the angel. Only new items will be accepted for the program. Food items cannot be accepted.
All Angel Tree donations are due Dec. 12 and will be distributed Dec. 17.
Jay Castillo, owner of Arkansas Beverage, 100 Budweiser Lane, has donated warehouse space to store and distribute Angel Tree items, Robinett said.
Robinett said distribution day is her favorite part of the program, because she loves to see the looks on the parent's faces when they see the gifts for their children.
"It is so rewarding to see these parents," Robinett said.
Last year, 117 volunteers helped with the Angel Tree program and Robinett said she would love to see even more this year, noting, "There are never too many volunteers."
The program also needs volunteers to help sort gifts in the warehouse, distribute gifts to recipients, load gifts, work as mall guardians and shop for gifts. Anyone interested can call Robinett at 623-1628, to discuss the best place to volunteer.
In addition to the gifts, The Salvation Army is partnering with Stomp Out Hunger to provide Christmas food baskets to the angel tree families. There will be food collection boxes set up beside all the Angel Tree collection sites. They are looking for traditional Christmas dinner items including mashed potatoes and stuffing.
Donations to the program are tax deductible.
"Out of all the programs we do either seasonally or in total, it is one of my favorites," Robinett said.Local on 11/11/2016