Officials with the Big Spring Salvation Army Angel Tree program say the cards are being chosen from the charity-driven trees quickly this year, however, they have been a bit slow to be returned.
According to Ada Lafler, Angel Tree coordinator for the local charity, these first few weeks of the program — which provides Christmas gifts for area children and seniors of low income families — have been encouraging.
“Almost all of the angel cards have been placed on the trees, which is a very good sign,” Lafler said. “I stopped by Walmart recently and checked on the Angel Tree there, and a lot of the cards have been chosen by area shoppers. That's a very good sign. The worst thing you can see at this point in the process is a majority of cards which haven't been chosen.”
Each year, the staff at the Salvation Army spends more than a week taking applications from local residents hoping to utilize the program. The applicants go through a screening process where social workers examine their income, bills and other financial issues before approving them for the program.
After the application process is completed, the names of the children approved for the program are placed on angel ornaments — paper cards currently adorning the Angel Trees set up throughout the community — along with the child's wish list for the Christmas holiday.
And while the program is off to a good start, Lafler said the local charity is far from out of the woods yet.
“It's always a good thing when the angel cards are picked up this quick, however, they aren't being turned back in very quickly,” she said. “We really need the folks who have chosen angel cards to get them — along with the gift items — back in as quickly as possible. That way something important doesn't come up in the meantime and they aren't able to get them back to us until the last minute.”
Lafler said Angel Trees are located at Blums Jewelers in the Big Spring Mall, Big Spring Herald, Higganbotham-Bartlett Hardware, Just Peachy Cafe, Bealls Department Store, Walmart SuperCenter, Howard County Library, Alon USA's Big Spring Refinery and the Scenic Mountain Medical Center lobby.
While the annual program provides local families a chance to be charitable during the holiday season — as well as teach their children, by example, the importance of helping out the less fortunate — Lafler said it's very important to remember what a tremendous impact it can have on the recipients.
“Many of these children feel like society — and even life — have given up on them. That's a tough position to handle when you're only 10 or 11 years old,” Lafler said. “This program, however, offers them a reminder that people still care.
“It shows them that even though most people are caught up in the everyday hustle and bustle of the world, especially during the holiday season, they are still taking time and money from of their own lives and giving them a reason to wake up Christmas morning with a smile. No child should ever have to wake up Christmas morning without a gift under the tree.”
The deadline for donors to return their angel cards and gifts is Monday, Dec. 17, at 5 p.m. For more information on the program, call 432-267-8239 or stop by the Salvation Army office, located at 811 W Fifth Street.