Angel Tree program gives gifts to more than 1,000 children in Roanoke Valley

Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 5:57 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke Valley families in need received presents Tuesday to put under the tree for Christmas morning. The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program makes sure every child feels special this holiday season.

Bags filled with toys and clothes went into the cars of families who need a bit of extra help for the holidays. A captain with the Salvation Army explained how this program is important to the community.

“The community really does need this because any year, someone can have a situation that’s difficult for them to financially be able to afford Christmas,” Captain Jamie Clay said. “We know Christmas happens the same day, the time of frame of year, but families are struggling.”

The program helps parents like Tanisha Parker give her children a Christmas to remember.

“If you wake up and something’s under the tree, even if you weren’t able to get it [yourself], that gives children the hope and wishful thinking about Santa and it doesn’t kill their hopes and spirits,” Parker said. “I think that’s pretty good to wake up to and it makes you happy knowing that the kids are happy.”

This year, the Salvation Army handed out gifts for more than 1,000 angels. Captain Clay explained how there are 147 more families than last year.

“We can tell what the economy is doing usually by how many angels that are registered,” Captain Clay said. “Whenever you have a 20% increase from the year before, there’s probably a 20% more need in the community for everything from making their bills to being able to pay their rent.”

Dozens of volunteers helped load up the carts and cars to send families home with their treasures. One volunteer explained why he plans to make the Angel Tree distribution day an annual tradition.

“Every kid should have a great Christmas,” Greg Lionberger said. “Kids don’t choose where they are and the settings that they’re in. I can’t think of a better way to help somebody have a great Christmas than helping a kid.”

But the program wouldn’t be possible without the help from the community. Captain Clay explained how with more families in need, community members stepped up to make up for the extra gifts.

“They are the ones that made this Christmas miracle happen for each one of these families,” Captain Clay said.

Registration for next year’s Angel Tree program starts October 2023.