It’s the Angel Tree Distribution Day for the Salvation Army of Wheeling.
More than 400 kids this year will be getting gifts, that’s over 200 families helped this holiday season.
Employees at the Salvation Army say the day is one of their favorite days of the year, especially when they get to see the look on parents faces, knowing their children will have presents to open on Christmas.
Red bags filled with presents lining the floor of the Salvation Army but the bags represent more than just toys to the Salvation Army.
“These bags each individually represent a story who is in desperate need of a Christmas miracle,” said Crystal Carringer.
Crystal and her husband Benny say they’ve been there.
“Growing up I was a recipient of the Angel Tree so being able to give back to the community something that I once took for granted you know having a present to open, makes it all worth while,” said Benny.
Crystal Carringer: “I’m so fortunate because there are many Christmases where I wouldn’t have received a Christmas gift had it not been for the Salvation Army.”
Christmas is expensive and for many families it’s a choice: presents or bills?
“A lot of our recipients do have jobs, and unfortunately they just don’t have enough extra,” said Crystal.
Here are some of their stories:
“There’s a single mom who has two teenage daughters who works and unfortunately can’t make ends meet. There’s a single father who is raising a beautiful little girl who works everyday and is such a hard worker, and just needs something extra. A single mother who has a little boy who struggles and unfortunately he’s got some autism and it’s hard for her day in and day out,” said Crystal.
And there are hundreds more stories just like those.
“I think this year we saw an increase in families and our community really stepped up and helped us fulfill those needs and we also have a waiting list of about 20 kids that hopefully we’ll be able to contact after the day is over as well,” said Benny.
The Salvation Army says they wouldn’t be able to help as many families if it wasn’t for the generosity of the community.
Benny and Crystal say getting to see that generosity in action is what makes their Christmas.
“The fact that I get to be on the other side of that and I get to distribute those to those parents and I see their smiling faces I know that all this hard work is worth it in the end,” said Crystal.
If you’d like to make a donation to the Angel Tree you still can. You can drop gifts off to the 16th Street location in Wheeling, you can also drop off monetary donations also, just make sure to make a memo that it is for the Angel Tree.