The Salvation Army of Iredell County is asking for help to make Christmas special for all children in the area through the Angel Tree Program.
Majs. Joseph and JoAnn Muré are working to make donating a viable option. There are multiple ways to make the holidays special.
On the Angel Tree slip there is the child’s name, age, gender, clothes sizes and a need along with two wishes.
Many of the younger children’s wishes are the same as a need. Many of the children have requested winter coats for Christmas.
“I worry about what they are doing now before they get this coat with it being so cold,” JoAnn said.
For the Angel Tree Program, there were more than 300 families interviewed and added to a database of more than 800 children, JoAnn Muré said.
One of the businesses that previously took several angels opted out this year.
“Unfortunately we found out we lost an employer that took 300 last year, so we are very concerned about that,” Joseph said.
“They are not able to do it this year because they have other visions,” JoAnn said. “So yeah, that was a big chunk.”
Even with the loss, there are still a number of businesses in Iredell that have taken in angels to be displayed. Many businesses have taken around 20 to 50 angels.
Included among those is the Mooresville Police Department, which will be doing the Heroes and Helpers program and is taking 30 children from Mooresville, the Murés said.
In addition, there are angels that have not made it onto a tree, as the Murés stare at the piles of slips stacked on JoAnn’s desk.
These angels have not made it to a tree yet as the local Salvation Army is still working to find locations to host more Angel Trees. Once a business runs out of angels, it can receive more to go onto the tree at the hosting site.
“There are still more than a
few left … I have only taken out about a couple hundred,” JoAnn said.
Iredell County has a disadvantage compared with a more prominent city, they said.
“There is not really a mall here that we can put an Angel Tree in the middle of the mall,” JoAnn said.
“... So we have to find those little mom-and-pop places … the local businesses and groups.”
Angels are children 12 and under. This year children about the age of 12 will also be able to get donated gifts with the help of local Sheetz locations. The Murés said they are taking almost 50 teenage angels.
“They are including up to age 17 in their program, so that is nice because if you have five kids in the family and one of them is 13 and 14 and the rest of them are under … you know we can’t help that one,” JoAnn said.
“The partnership with Sheetz is really, really helping us meet more needs,” Joseph said.
If all of the angels are not adopted, the Salvation Army will do everything it can for those that are left.
“The ‘A’ plan would be to see where we could get toys at either no cost or very, very reasonable costs,” Joseph said. “But if it’s a very large amount. … All of our money for this goes into the organization, the sorting, the recruiting, the volunteers needed to pull this off. … We wouldn’t be able to buy a significant amount of toys; it wouldn’t be possible.”
The gifts are expected to be filled and given back Dec. 14, with distribution Dec. 19.
Businesses and community groups have three ways they can help other than donating money, including giving space or time.
“There (are) typically three ways people can help at Christmas — we have the counter kettles for high-traffic business areas, a business owner that would like to do that,” Joseph Muré said. “If they have room and they would like to set up a Christmas tree and we will hang angels on (it) … that would be great. If they don’t have room and it is just a small place and they just have a counter. We have (something for) that.”
Also a business can get coworkers together and volunteer to ring a bell by signing up at redkettlevolunteer.org.
“We have the Christmas kettles, the counter kettles and the Angel Trees,” Muré said.
This year, there are stockings available as well.
“It’s a stocking chimney, and those are provided to us though Winston-Salem Salvation Army. We are going to try that here; we have never done it here before,” Joseph said.
The cardboard box looks like a chimney, with hooks to hang stockings for the children.
The Murés are hoping that each child who is a part of the program will be able to receive a stocking.
“It allows the person who maybe can’t afford to go out and buy a bike for one of the children on the tree to go to the dollar store … and put a few inexpensive items,” Joseph said.
The chimneys can be found at some McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A locations.
“We want to make sure these kids have the best Christmas they can have. These are typically families of low income,” Joseph said. “Christmas without our help would be a burden at best to most of these families. If we can help make Christmas enjoyable for these families, we have done our part plus.”
JoAnn said some children may wonder why they can’t get the same things as others.
“‘Why don’t I get the same thing that Johnny has at school … or I need new shoes,’” JoAnn said. “It was interesting taking these applications and having people ask for things that we just take for granted.”
The Salvation Army also needs volunteers.
“Trying to fill our kettle locations with volunteers, we have already had a great response from volunteer groups, so we are filling up our days,” JoAnn said.
“But we have plenty left … plenty of openings left,” Joseph said. “I was told high schoolers here are required to do some community service hours; we would love for them to get involved in groups and take a location for the whole day.”
By the bell ringers this year is a sign that lets a cellphone user take a photo of a QR code, which will prompt a donation option.
Scan-a-Donation will still help the local community that the users’ Google Pay or Apple Pay is set up with, based on their ZIP code.
“We are taking all of the excuses away,” JoAnn said.
The Murés are hoping to do very well with donations so that new things can be implemented for the community.
“If we do really well this Christmas, there are some new ministry opportunities we would like to try here,” Joseph said. “We would like to send a whole bunch of kids to camp. It’s about $250 to send a kid to camp, so that’s a grand, grand week and adventure for them.”