Behind the cause: the Salvation Army Angel Tree program

On Dec. 15, Media of Birmingham is volunteering to help the Salvation Army Angel Tree program. Find out more about the program …

The History of the Salvation Army Angel Tree

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, Va., shopping mall to provide clothing and toys for children at Christmas time.

The program got its name because the Whites identified the wishes of local children by writing their gift needs on Hallmark greeting cards featuring pictures of angels and placing them on a Christmas tree at the mall. Thanks to the Whites, who were assigned by the Salvation 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, Angel Tree was launched during the 1982 Christmas season. WSM radio, which airs the Grand Ol’ Opry, came on board that year as the first Angel Tree co-sponsor in the United States.

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. Since that time, the program has grown to include Angel Trees in throughout the Birmingham area.

In 2007, The Salvation Army partnered with Fox 6 Gifts for Kids, a program designed to give foster children in the Birmingham metro area Christmas gifts. With this partnership, 7,113 children were helped.

Melissa Fierstine at Hands on Birmingham says that the Salvation Army anticipates helping more than 10,000 Angels in Jefferson and Shelby Counties this year. The Angels register in September and October to receive assistance.

Sign up today!

2 responses to “Behind the cause: the Salvation Army Angel Tree program

  1. I am a single mother of 7 children. I live in Jefferson Co. 5 of my children are adopted and those 5 have special needs. Our income is below poverty level. My 9 yr. old son is suffering from a brain infection and my 2 yr. old daughter is having problems similar to autism which she is currently being tested for. We have been very busy seeing to the two children I mentioned. The medical issues. with the other children have me overwhelmed. I called at the end of October to our local welfare office but didn’t get an answer. I called them back today to find out that we just missed signing up for Christmas assistance. I continued calling around and now I see that we have missed Angel Tree and Toys for Tots. Everyone signed up in October. Is there anywhere I can turn for assistance? I have 7 children that won’t be able to get anything for Christmas if I don’t find assistance. Any info will be appreciated.
    Teresa Fendley

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