Volunteers a godsend for Angel Tree
By Shavonne Potts
Volunteers spent two days packing food, clothing and toys for the Salvation Army’s annual Angel Tree program.
The volunteers wrapped up their work on Tuesday with more than 23,400 pounds of food that will be used feed 700 local families.
Volunteers were from the Salvation Army, Food Lion’s distribution center and AmeriCredit Financial Services in Huntersville. The group worked out of the former Power Curbers building on Bringle Ferry Road.
Area Rowan-Salisbury schools collected 104 barrels of food from the community, which filled 700 bags for families who applied for the Angel Tree program. Families whose children were represented on a tree will receive Christmas dinner.
Volunteers will spend a good part of today distributing the toys, clothing and food.
Capt. Jason Smith of the Salisbury branch of the Salvation Army explained each family was assigned a number and each Angel Tree tag is assigned a number.
Donors chose a child from one of the trees located throughout Salisbury. Students at Koontz Elementary raised money and bought 75 coats for the project.
The Salvation Army bought $11,000 worth of toys that will supplement any children whose name was not pulled from a tree.
Food Lion provided the Salvation Army with store discounts on the food that was purchased, said Capt. Jason Smith.
Smith said two Food Lion stores, at West Jake Alexander and Statesville boulevards, had employees collect money that was used to buy each of the families some chocolates.
Hallmark donates nationally to the Salvation Army and the agency was able to use extra gift bags, wrapping paper and holiday cards for the families.
Smith said community support made the program possible.
“This is evidence of that support,” he said.
Beth Gee of Statesville has been volunteering for about seven years. She said AmeriCredit, where she works, has been sending employees for sometime. The employees not only volunteer in Salisbury but have donated their time in Charlotte and Huntersville at various organizations, including the United Way and March of Dimes.
“It makes you feel Christmas-y,” Gee said.
It’s also important to give back, she said.
Her daughter, Tabetha Hayden, also of Statesville, volunteered for the day as well. Hayden has volunteered for the past four years. Hayden is also an employee of AmeriCredit.
“It’s a great experience and you get to help the families,” she said.
Melinda Wilson, with the Salvation Army, has been volunteering for the past eight years. What brings her back each year is seeing the reaction from people. Last year she saw someone crying after being given “so much stuff.”
“To see happy tears makes me feel good,” Wilson said.
Wilson said she feels like Santa Claus.
“It blesses my heart to have that experience,” she said.
Alicia Moore, also of the Salvation Army, has volunteered each year since 2001.
She works as a social worker for the agency.
“There’s a need and the people are grateful. That’s what brings me back,” Moore said.
She also enjoys being able to see happy children who probably wouldn’t have gotten gifts if not for the people in the community who gave.
“It gives you a sense that you are helping the community and helping someone out,” said Darrell Phillips, of Food Lion.
He said this is one of many organizations Food Lion supports financially and through its time.
“I think Food Lion does a great job in the community,” Phillips said.
Some employees from Food Lion picked 175 names from a tree.
Capt. Melissa Smith said instead of the employees exchanging holiday gifts with each other, they bought gifts for children in need.
One of those employees, Lou Delorenzo gave a bed to a child who asked for one.
St. John’s Lutheran Church also adopted 175 names of children. The church members will present the gifts along with a dinner for the families this Saturday.
The Salvation Army is a United Way partner agency.