Angel Tree gifts fall far short

Officials with the Big Spring Salvation Army say donations to the local charity's annual Angel Tree program are trickling in at an alarmingly slow rate with just days before the holiday effort meets its deadline.Bessie Flores, newly appointed social worker for the Salvation Army — taking over for longtime social worker Paula Lafler, who has been sidelined with health problems — said the lack of Christmas gifts donated for the annual effort has her very concerned.“The last day for people to get their angels and gifts in to us is Monday, and we've only received a handful of them back so far,” Flores said. “Needless to say, we're very concerned. A lot of the families that benefit from the Angel Tree program can't afford gifts for their children, and the last thing we want for any youth is to wake up Christmas morning with nothing under the tree.”According to Flores, participating in the program, which provides for area children and seniors, is quick and simple.“They just take the Angel card from the tree and purchase Christmas gifts for that child or senior,” said Flores. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be what’s listed on the angel card. Once they purchase the items, they will attach the card to the gifts and bring them to our office, or drop them off where they got the card from. It’s very important that they tape or tie the card to the gift, however, so we can make sure it goes to the correct child.”According to Salvation Army officials, the charity approved more than 130 families — totaling 367 children and 88 seniors — for this year's effort, down slightly from last year's 544 recipients.“We've set up Angel Trees at the Wal-Mart Supercenter, Bealls department store, the Big Spring Herald and the Big Spring Mall,” Flores said. “We also have trees at Scenic Mountain Medical Center, the Heritage Museum and the Howard County Library.