By Ashley Rader
A team of community volunteers played Santa Claus Saturday as hundreds of Carter County children received Christmas gifts from the Salvation Army Angel Tree program.
The Angel Tree gift boxes, along with Christmas food boxes, were distributed by volunteers at the National Guard Armory on Judge Don Lewis Boulevard in Stoney Creek. Gift boxes were distributed for 950 angels. Also, 818 families received food assistance.
The number of children receiving angels had increased from last year’s total of 899 children on the Angel Tree.
Some of those picking up their children’s gifts Saturday morning said their youngsters wouldn’t have received many, or any, gifts this Christmas without the help of the Angel Tree.
Hampton resident Jill Sexton was at the distribution to pick up gifts for her 10-year-old and three grandchildren in her custody.
“Without this, they wouldn’t have Christmas.” Sexton said. “The Salvation Army has been so good to us. God bless them.”
Roan Mountain resident Sharon Hilmon said this year was the first time she had came to the Angel Tree for assistance with Christmas gifts.
“It has helped out a lot,” Hilmon said. “I work part time and I have a 9-year-old son. It has been rough. Usually family would have been able to help but it has been a hard year for them too.”
Michelle Tolley of Hampton also sought assistance from the Angel Tree for the first time this year. She has two children, a daughter and a son, but the daughter was over the age limit to receive presents.
“This will help,” Tolley said. “I think he got some really good presents. He will be excited to get these.”
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