A growing need: Salvation Army seeks help bringing Christmas to needy kids

Charity’s Angel Tree program to serve 800 more children than last year

rmanley@macon.comNovember 30, 2012 

The Christmas tree on the second floor isn’t the biggest in the Macon Mall. It isn’t the brightest.

But its branches -- adorned only with simple white cards -- bear the holiday dreams and wishes of children.

There’s a card for Rose. She wears size 13 shoes and 7/8 pants and shirts. For Christmas, the 7-year-old wants “country girly stuff.”

And there’s one for Daniel, a 9-year-old who wears size 10 clothes and likes anything to do with sports.

The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree includes just a few of the “angels” the organization plans to help this holiday season. Last year, the Army helped bring Christmas to 2,500 children. It was prepared to help that many again, but a growing need pushed the number of new angels up by 32 percent this year.

That led Salvation Army officials to issue a public plea for help, asking for more people to “adopt an angel” or help supply a food box for needy families and seniors.

“The need is there, and the need is great,” said Peggy Steele, director of development for the Salvation Army of Central Georgia.

Steele said her organization needs to help about 800 additional children this year. Many are being raised by grandparents because of troubles at home or by single parents who need help.

“There’s all kinds of reasons for the children being in need,” Steele said, “but the children didn’t ask to be in this position.”

The Angel Tree program allows people to choose an angel from the tree or by calling the office at 746-8572. The cards give the clothing and shoe sizes for each child, as well as a suggested toy or gift.

“We ask that hopefully they can buy an outfit ... and maybe a toy,” Steele said,

The Salvation Army also has seen a jump in the number of families or seniors needing assistance through the organization’s food box program, another holiday effort.

The Army provided about 2,000 food boxes last Christmas, but it needs that and almost 250 more this year.

To help with a food box or to adopt an angel, call 746-8572. Steele is confident that folks will respond.

“I think it’s just a matter of getting the word out,” she said. “The community is so generous, and they really do want to help.”

To contact writer Rodney Manley, call 744-4623.

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