The true impact of the economy in Monroe County is tough to measure. Residents have lost money, jobs and homes. Our families and friends may have fallen on hard times. Some who had little to begin with now have less and are working harder everyday to make it to tomorrow.
These same families who are struggling to meet the financial demands of day-to-day life question how they might provide a gift or two for their children on Christmas Day. Every child deserves to experience the joy of Christmas morning. And thanks to supporters of The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program, hundreds of children will find this waiting under their Christmas trees this year.
The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program provides new clothing or toys for children of needy families through the support of donors. Found in local companies and corporations, Angel Trees are decorated with numbered paper angel tags with the first name, age and gender of a child in need of presents. Contributors remove one or more tags from the tree and purchase appropriate gifts for the child or children described on the tags. Once the Tree is full, our volunteer, Wayne Stewart, picks them up and brings them back to our Corps, ready to distribute.
Wayne has been our primary Angel Tree Volunteer Coordinator for the past three years. "I was down and out and we needed help," he says. "The Salvation Army helped us when we needed it and this is my way of giving back."
Not only does Wayne coordinate locations, he also secures new sponsors each year, growing the program to approximately 30 businesses around Monroe County. "If it wasn't for Wayne," says Jill Brink, Food Pantry/Volunteer Director, "our program wouldn't be as robust as we find it today. He is instrumental to the success of the program."
No easy task, each year, Wayne personally visits each prior Angel Tree location and solicits new locations, citing the mission of The Salvation Army and works closely with each location to ensure a successful program. "Wayne is very good in his approach with people," comments Major Mary Tregellas, fellow volunteer and retired Salvation Army Officer. "
"Securing new locations each year ensures more children wake up on Christmas morning with toys," Wayne says. "For me, it's simple. Helping make Christmas special for kids is what it's all about."
This year, thanks to Wayne's efforts and the generosity of our community, a whopping 369 kids had presents to open this Christmas morning. How about that!
We are so blessed by Wayne's compassion and dedication to the children of Monroe County. Thank you Wayne for helping us fulfill our mission of "Doing The Most Good" in Monroe County.