By Ashley Rader
More than 800 Carter County families will receive assistance from the Carter County Salvation Army Angel Tree this Christmas season.
Last month, 804 families were signed up for food and gift assistance. A total of 890 children were signed up for the Angel Tree program.
Through the Angel Tree, parents sign their children up for assistance. The child’s wish list and clothing sizes are placed on an angel that is hung on a tree for people to adopt for the holiday season. They buy gifts for the angel, then turn them back in to be given to the child.
The gifts for the angels should be new and unwrapped. Each sponsor should be willing to provide for a minimum of $50-$75 for each angel. This would include a new outfit, coat or shoes, a large toy and smaller toys.
Salvation Army Capt. Nick Garrison said the Carter County community always rallies around those in need to help provide those families with gifts and food during the Christmas season.
“It is always a blessing to see the community come together to help other families,” Garrison said. “It is amazing to see, and Carter County always has a great response.”
Interested individuals can select an angel from an angel tree in various locations throughout Elizabethton. One of those locations is the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library, which is hosting an angel tree for the first time.
Children’s Librarian Ashlee Williams explained she volunteered with the angel tree sign-ups earlier in the year. During the sign-ups, she asked about the library getting an angel tree of its own.
Library staff assembled the tree Friday and received 50 angels for the public to choose from. Williams said that 15 angels had been adopted from the library’s tree by Monday afternoon.
“This is convenient for our patrons at the library,” Williams said. “Some of them, especially the elderly, may not be able to make it to the mall or to Wal- Mart to pick out an angel. Some of our patrons did not know about the Angel Tree program until we put the tree up, so it has been a learning experience as well.”
Not all of the 804 families that signed up for assistance had children to be placed on the Angel Tree. Some needed assistance providing for their Christmas meal and will receive aid through the Johnson City Press Christmas Box program, which will provide 392 food boxes and 412 $35 gift certificates for the families.
Families of one or two will receive a $35 gift card to buy their own Christmas dinners, because the amount of food in the boxes would be too much for their family size. The food boxes include 33 items, not including the smoked ham, 10-12-pound turkey, three-pound bag of onions and 10-pound bag of potatoes.
In addition, 304 hams will be distributed in Johnson County, and 325 hams will be distributed in Unicoi County.
Wal-Mart Manager Starla Garland said Wal-Mart was glad to be partnering with the Angel Tree and Christmas Box programs again this year. Wal- Mart hosts the angels for adoption and allows the committee to use the old Magic Mart building for storage and a distribution space.
“It is our privilege to share our store with the needy families and children in the community again this year,” she said.
The deadline to return the angel gifts is Thursday, Dec. 13. Gifts can be dropped off at Wal-Mart or Hale Community Ministries. Williams said people could also drop off their gifts at the library, and she would drop the gifts of at Hale Community Ministries.
The gift boxes will be prepared and distributed from the old Magic Mart from Dec. 3 to Dec. 19 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.