Local News

Salvation Army hopes for toys beneath the Angel Trees

Posted December 10, 2009 12:10 p.m. EST
Updated December 10, 2009 3:51 p.m. EST

— A Salvation Army spokeswoman says the charity has barely half of the children's Christmas presents it needs, only six days before the annual gifts distribution.

Need has increased and donations are down in tough economic times, said Paige Bagwell, executive director of development for the Salvation Army of Wake County.

This year, 5,500 children were signed up for the Angel Tree program – 1,000 more than in 2008.

"We are short. We need some more toys," Bagwell said.

The Angel Tree program lets members of the public give presents to children up to age 12 in households that qualify as low income. The children write their Christmas wishes on paper angels, which are hung on Christmas trees in malls. Shoppers can pick an angel from the tree.

"It makes me feel very good. It makes me feel great," said volunteer Sabih Khan, who was helping organize the gifts Thursday.

The biggest drop in donations has been from corporations that are reducing spending, Bagwell said.

"We've actually had corporations that were adopting hundreds of angels saying, 'We can't do any," she said.

Despite the challenges, no child will go without a Christmas present, Bagwell promised. Ideally, each child gets a stocking, an outfit and three or four presents. If they don't get enough donations, though, children might get only one present.

The Salvation Army's most pressing need is for toys, especially for children aged 10 to 12 years old. Jewelry, hair accessories and crafts are popular with girls, and skateboards, bikes and other sporting equipment are popular with boys.

Donations can be dropped off at the Salvation Army Distribution Center, 2407 Wake Forest Road in Raleigh, or at the Angel Trees in Triangle Town Center Mall and Crabtree Valley Mall.

Volunteers are also needed to help distribute the gifts next Wednesday and Thursday.

If necessary, the Salvation Army will use money collected at its iconic red kettle to buy presents, Bagwell said.

"That extra money we raise at Christmas helps our basic need programs throughout the year, the food, the shelter, the clothing," she said. "And if we have to dip into that now, before the (new) year even starts, it's going to be tough."