According to Melissa Snyder of the Cleveland Corps, “Being a part of the Angel Tree Program creates a sense of excitement among the workplace, and it is also a wonderful tradition for churches and families to be a part of each year.”
Children and senior citizens helped through the program fall under the federal minimum poverty guidelines to qualify. A majority of the angels served are children ages infant to 12-year-olds. Seniors are 60 years and above.
According to Cleveland Corps Angel Tree coordinator Jim Welch, Salvation Army cross-checks with other like-minded charities in the area to ensure services are not duplicated. Altogether, operations like the Bradley Baptist Association and The Refuge Christmas serve almost 4,000 children.
Welch and Snyder believe corporate sponsors could ensure more children are covered this year.
“The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree in Cleveland depends on donors, volunteers and organizations that help ensure that each Angel receives the Christmas that brings miles and joy for the whole family,” Snyder said. “We cannot do this without them.”
A corporate sponsor is any business which will sponsor a minimum of five angels. These can be displayed in one of three ways: on the organization’s Christmas tree; on a bulletin board in the office; or by using garland to create a Christmas tree’s shape and attach the angels.
Offices and corporations interested in sponsoring an angel can do so by indicating how many angels the business will need. According to Snyder, an Angel Tree information packet will be delivered to the place of business with the correct number of Angel Tree tags.
Kristi Muhonen from Doctors Express shared why her office jumped on board as first-time corporate sponsors.
“We just wanted to reach out to some needy people in the community,” Muhonen said. “We wanted to be able to provide them with a Christmas they might not be able to have, if we were not willing to help.”
Continued Muhonen, “Most of us have children, and while Christmas has one specific meaning, which is Jesus’ birthday, the thought of a child not having any presents to open is heartbreaking.”
According to the center administrator, the sponsorship has served a dual purpose: helping those in need while providing an amazing team-building experience for the staff.
“We just all work together to provide what the kids have listed on the Angel Tree list,” Muhonen said. “It is exciting to come in and say, ‘Oh I got this,’ and we can mark things off the list. It is almost like we are buying for our own children.”
She pointed out the program helps meet both the needs and wants of children.
Muhonen added, “It helps people like us who may not be as much on the needy side of things feel like we are doing something good, especially for the community.”
Each Angel Tree tag is personalized to fit the individual in question. A wishlist with toy items like board games, books and bikes are listed along with a child’s clothing needs. Taking a tag ensures another child or senior citizen receives personalized gifts and necessities they may otherwise have gone without.
Assured Snyder, “Donors can be confident their gifts go directly to those who are truly needy, since all Salvation Army Angels are not served by other holiday assistance programs.”
Items for a particular Angel should be kept separate from other Angels. When everything is purchased, Welch said a call can be placed to him for pickup. Items may also be dropped off at the Salvation Army on Inman Street. Once the Angel’s gifts have been returned, then the Salvation Army will sort the items out according to each tag’s unique code numbers.
According to Welch, the parents will pick up the items so the children are none the wiser. The goal is to impact the whole family through a community’s effort to help its Angels.
Those interested in sponsoring at least five angels this Christmas can do so by calling Jim Welch at 380-8178 or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.