Above, from left, LCA’s John B.; Darien Huaman, Director of Social Services for the Salvation Army, and LCA employees Christopher B. and Pierce H. with some of the gifts LCA employees donated for the Angel Tree program.
LCA employees gave Santa Claus a helping hand earlier this week when they delivered presents for 33 local children to The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program.
The Angel Tree program provides gifts for children of disadvantaged families. The gifts are given to parents a few days before Christmas, so that the child believes they’re from his parents or Santa Claus — preserving the magic of the holiday.
According to The Salvation Army, last year the Angel Tree program “provided approximately 6,765 gifts, and all indications point to even more families in financial crisis this year.”
Here’s how the program works: The Salvation Army provides “angel tags,” which include the name, gender, and age of a child in need. Participating organizations hang the tags on a special Christmas tree at their location, or distribute the tags in another manner. Participants then provide new, unwrapped, age-appropriate gifts for the children represented on the tags.
The Angel Tree got its start in 1979, when two Salvation Army majors, Charles and Shirley White, came up with the idea to provide clothing and toys for children during the holiday season at a shopping mall in Lynchburg, Virginia.
The Whites had children write down their gift wishes and needs on greeting cards that featured pictures of angels. They then placed the cards on a Christmas tree at the mall. Shoppers could select a card and purchase the children’s wished-for items. That first year, more than 700 children had a brighter holiday thanks to the fledgling program.
When the Whites were transferred to Nashville, Tennessee, three years later, the Angel Tree followed. WSM radio, which airs the Grand Ol’ Opry, heard about the Angel Tree program and became the first Angel Tree co-sponsor. Thanks to the radio station and publicity from CNN and the Larry King Live show, the program became a national tradition.
LCA has been an avid Angel Tree supporter for many years. In a thank-you letter for our participation in 2018, Salvation Army Major Juan Mercado, who is the Allentown corps officer and coordinator of Lehigh Valley Area Services, wrote, “During these days that are filled with extreme needs, we welcome the ‘Winds of Winter’ because we know that we will be inspired by the many great friends who have reached out to those whom we will serve. Your giving certainly made a remarkable difference in their lives in this holiday season … we assisted 1,047 families and gave 2,636 toys to children.”
LCA’s employees are always eager to help. “Growing up I know how excited I was for Christmas. I want to make sure kids that are less fortunate can still have a good Christmas,” said Tim C.
“With as fortunate as all of us here at LCA are, it’s a small gesture to give back to our community. As customer-focused as LCA is, it’s wonderful that we’re able to reach out directly and do some good for the holiday season,” Chris M. said.
And Wanda P. told us “I participate in the Angel Tree program because kids should have at least one gift under the tree or in their stocking … Everyone forgets Christmas is truly about giving and paying it forward if your situation allows. Whether the gift is purchased or homemade, that one little gift can mean a lot, especially at Christmas.”
If you’d like to help The Salvation Army — either for the holidays, or at any time of the year — please call (610) 432-0129 or visit them online at LehighValley.SalvationArmyPA.org.