Families overwhelmed with The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program distribution

Families in South Georgia lined the streets for The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program toy distribution.
Published: Dec. 19, 2022 at 10:46 PM EST
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THOMAS COUNTY, Ga. (WCTV) - Families in South Georgia lined the streets for The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program toy distribution.

Although, donations have been down this year for the non-profit, that didn’t stop the Thomas County community from pulling together everything they could to provide those in need with something to put under their trees.

“Due to everything they’ve been through, I wanted to be able to at least have something under the tree. But this was just more than I expected,” said Sharon Anderson, a South Georgia woman who recently gained custody of her three grandchildren.

“They’ve gone through just a horrific amount of trauma and tragedy, and they’ve come to live with me, and I just didn’t have the finances,” she said.

For many households like Anderson’s the angel tree program is the only way Christmas is possible. For months, The Salvation Army prepares by collecting donations and having the community purchase gifts from the lists provided through the program.

“I have a 12-year-old boy, and an 8-year-old daughter. I have a two-year-old son and I have a five-year-old daughter,” said Shekinah Brown, a mother of four who shared that without The Salvation Army and the generosity from the community, she also would not have been able to provide her children with the gifts they were hoping for.

Brown says times are hard, which makes her even more grateful for the people that, despite their own potential hardships, still helped fulfill holiday shopping lists for others.

“They’re going to be overly excited. They’re going to be dramatic. That’s the word. They’re going to be overly exciting and dramatic,” said Brown.

Sergeant Robyn Hickey with The Salvation Army of Thomas County says gifts ranged from bikes and dollhouses for children to mops and microwaves for seniors. Hickey says seniors are often forgotten during the holidays, which is why the organization has made it a point to include the elderly in the program.

“It’s like playing Santa Claus. Being the one that gets to put the gifts in their hands. It’s amazing. It makes you realize that the community is still so full of love and cheer, and they give from their hearts,” said Sgt. Hickey.

There were around 86 children from the program, out of over 700 participants that did not have anyone to fulfill their holiday lists.

The Salvation Army has extended its deadline to collect toys through December 24 in order to provide every child with something to open on Christmas day.

Sgt. Hickey says families are feeling it more than ever this year as rising costs threatened the ability of many to provide their households with Christmas gifts. However, thanks to the community, she believes things will be merry and bright for many families after all.