Angel Tree History
Along with the familiar Red Kettles, the Angel Tree program is one of The Salvation Army’s highest profile Christmas efforts. Angel Tree was created by The Salvation Army in 1979 by Majors Charles and Shirley White when they worked with a Lynchburg, Virginia shopping mall to provide clothing and toys for children at Christmastime.
The program got its name because the Whites identified the wishes of local children by writing their gift needs on Hallmark greeting cards that featured pictures of angels. They placed the cards on a Christmas tree at the mall to allow shoppers to select children to help. Thanks to the Whites, who were assigned by The Army to the Lynchburg area at the time, more than 700 children had a brighter Christmas that first year.
Three years later, when the Whites were transferred to Nashville, Tennessee, Angel Tree was launched in the Music City. WSM radio, which airs the Grand Ol’ Opry, came on board that year as the first Angel Tree co-sponsor in the U.S. Because of the on-air promotion on WSM in Nashville, as well as national publicity on CNN and the Larry King Show, news of Angel Tree spread across the country like wildfire.
How It Works
Beginning in October, parents in our community are invited to apply for assistance in providing their families with a wonderful Christmas. Those seeking help must meet certain pre-determined criteria. Gifts are provided for children age 12 years and under. Donors can be confident that their gifts go directly to those who are truly in need right here in our community.
Generous businesses and organizations host an Angel Tree in their location. These Christmas trees are decked with angel tags, each detailing the wish of a child (an angel!). Individuals choose tags from the tree, purchase the requested gifts and return the unwrapped items to the tree location. Ideally, each angel will receive two or three toys and an item of clothing. Along with these gifts, many donations, like bicycles, are collected. The items then find their way to the Salvation Army community distribution center. Then, just before Christmas, Salvation Army volunteers work diligently to organize, sort and package the gifts so they are ready to distribute to the parents on the pick up dates.
For more information, please contact the Loudoun Corps at (703) 771-3371.