Monday, December 10, 2012

Santa's Angel Tree Workshop

Have you heard of the Angel Tree? I know every year we see the tree up in our church with names and ages of kids whose families cannot afford gifts. I just posted about how hard our Christmas finances are, but nothing compared to the need of these families. This weekend I got the chance to go behind the scenes with Houston Bloggers to the Salvation Army's Angel Tree Santa's Workshop.

Every year, the Angel Tree program takes over a giant warehouse in a secret, new location. Does this picture show the vastness of the place? Every trash bag contains a whole family's gifts for however many kids they have. The largest family this year has twelve. TWELVE.

The Angel Tree can work in a few ways. You can snag an individual child or family from an Angel Tree in a church or corporation. If the tags aren't picked up, they return into the system. We actually got a chance to "shop" for families while we were there to see how this works. We got information on the ages and genders of the kids, as long as a few ideas of things they would like. Then we got shopping carts and located the boxes of toys for the ages and genders and could pick out what we thought would be the best fit for the kids. Each got two items and a stocking stuffer or stuffed animal.

This was a lot easier for some than others, as you can see by these boxes. Younger kids are easier (and probably cheaper) to shop for. Both the older boys and older girls had few to no choices in their boxes. Stocking stuffers and stuffed animals are also things that people don't really consider donating so they lacked small gifts. I can tell you that even though some amazing gifts had been donated, those two to three gifts felt like so little when we were packing the bags.

If you are wanting to be involved, there are a few ways. If you see an Angel Tree with names, take a name! While there is a restriction on the gifts to children through the Santa Workshop (based on donations given around the city), an individual picked up through a tree in a church or business  has no limit. You can give as freely as you are able. If you give 20 gifts to that one family or child, they will ALL go to that family.

You can also donate. There are a number of locations around Houston (and probably your city!) where you can give gifts. After having seen our warehouse, I would bet that the gift needs are the same: older kids need more gifts and there are few stocking stuffers or stuffed animals. The more you give, the more the volunteers have to give from as they are packing bags for families in the warehouse. Toys must be new in the box and unwrapped. (Leaving them unwrapped allows the parents to wrap the gifts themselves and have some ownership over the process.)

Can you spot the Kiki in the gifts?

If you want to find out more information about the Angel Tree program, you can read more HERE. If you have room in your heart to give, whether through the Angel Tree or another program, or through the gift of your time and service through a local group.

KHOU partners with The Salvation Army every year, and to find out more about their partnership, you can click HERE for local information. Clearly, local meteorologist David Paul thinks you should.

[This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own.]

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