The Salvation Army is well known for its Christmas efforts with the Angel Tree program. It was created in 1979 by Majors Charles and Shirley White while they worked in a shopping mall. They thought it would be an effective way to give back to society by providing clothes, toys and donations to children at Christmas.
“Richland College has participated in this event for over 18 years. We go to The Salvation Army and get 100 tags because that’s about as much as this campus can handle. Everyone is welcome to come pick up a tag and the person on the tag will range from infant to a teenager then directed to an elderly person,” said Louise Rodgers-Keim, administrative assistant in the Office of Student life.
The first year The Salvation Army hosted the Angel Tree more than 700 children were assisted. This year it will help more than 45,000 people in the DFW Metroplex.
Throughout the years, the greatest need has been gifts for teenagers.
“For years, I didn’t take an angel because I thought you were expected to buy everything on the tag and I was thinking, like man I just don’t have enough money, but you don’t have to buy everything on the list. The Angel list will have a need, a want and various sizes written on it. The most important thing to do is meet the need. If you want to get them additional items that’s fine and the sizes are provided for you,” said Rodgers-Keim.
As a college student it’s hard to afford gifts for family members and the thought of buying for an angel seems to be impossible but if you’re in a group or organization on campus you can raise money to meet the needs of a child for Christmas.
“I think we set a record this year. There was a teacher that came in and took 17 angels off the tree and returned all 17 angels with several gifts, but we don’t expect you to do that,” said Rodgers-Keim.
The social service agencies and schools refer families to The Salvation Army for help. A verification screening is performed to make sure the families are not receiving duplicate gifts.
“I have a son that I lost. I do this in memory of him when I pick a young child from the tree. I also lost my mother and last year I took an elderly female and I was like, I’m not buying for my mother but I’m taking care of an elderly female. It helps me so much to deal with things like this especially when I’m giving and you’re happy to buy for someone instead of thinking, ‘I don’t have that person here to buy for.’ So buy in their honor. I find it very therapeutic for myself,” said Rodgers-Keim.
Although the deadline has passed to drop off gifts, you can still go online to donate to The Salvation Army at www.salvationarmyusa.org.