JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Starting Monday, families in need can begin registering their children for the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas Angel Tree giveaway. Every year, the event allows people in the community to help make Christmas wishes come true for thousands of local children.
A now-closed Arlington department store transforms into Santa’s workshop at the North Pole. Local families are reminded of people’s generosity at Christmas. Major Keath Biggers with the Salvation Army says that’s his favorite part.
“I tell people, ‘if you want to see a miracle, you just watch that and see the outpouring of the community’s spirit of Christmas and their giving spirit,” Biggers said. “It’s something I’m always amazed at.”
Between inflation, rising fuel costs, and more expenses, the Salvation Army is anticipating a greater need this year. He says his own loved ones have felt this need at Christmas time.
“My wife’s family is a perfect example,” Biggers said. “Her family was hurting financially in West Virginia when she was 10 years old. The Salvation Army was there for her family to provide Christmas that year.”
At the Salvation Army’s Towers Center of Hope downtown, applications will be available for families to fill out. The Angel Tree program is available for children up to age 12. Their families have applied for holiday assistance with the Salvation Army and demonstrated financial difficulty. People in the community, businesses, and church groups “adopt” the children by picking up Angel Tree tags from trees at the Avenues Mall and Ashley Home stores. They then purchase gifts to specifically match the age, needs, and wishes of each child and distribute them closer to the Christmas season.
Biggers says those in need should not hesitate to ask for help.
“Don’t feel ashamed,” Biggers said. “Reach out to the Salvation Army, come and make sure that you take care and provide for your children.”
Registration is available from Sept. 26 through Oct. 7, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Towers Center of Hope. The address is 900 West Adams Street.
To register, families will need to have their proof of address, proof of income, birth certificates and social security cards for all participating children.
Businesses wishing to participate in the Angel Tree program should call: (904) 356-8641.