Charleston, South Carolina – Like many things in 2020, COVID-19 has made an impact on many aspects of life. One of those is the annual Angel Tree program from the Salvation Army of Charleston.
“COVID has impacted us at every level in our angel tree,” said Captain Mike Michels with Salvation Army Charleston. “We want to make sure we reach folks who are going to struggle to make it through Christmas”
The Salvation Army is still preparing to set up its annual angel trees. The program was created for locals going through financial struggles with the goal to make sure kids have presents come Christmas.
“It’s not from the Salvation Army to the children; it’s the parents that get it from us and it’s the parents that give it to the children. They get to be the heroes. Sometimes when things get really tight, it’s tough to be a hero to your kids,” says Michels.
Angel Trees have seen a 50 percent increase in the number of families to support, due to the pandemic.
“We’ve never had to make sure we had the funds to do (the program). Our funds we raise at Christmas, we use all year round. So we can’t blow everything at Christmas. So, we’re saying how can we make sure all the kids are covered? How can we make sure our fundraising efforts are still going on?”
This year there are new ways to help, including online adoptions.
“A lot of our adopters are saying, ‘You know, a lot of us are staying at home; is there a way we can adopt online?’ We’ve actually instituted an online angel tree tag system as well as the normal angel tree tags you see at Walmart or MUSC,” said Michels.
The distribution plan will also change.
“We’re splitting the distribution into two days, and we’re seeing fewer people per time slot,” says Michels.
Then there are those iconic red kettles, although people should expect to notice a few adjustments made because of the pandemic.
“You’ll still see kettles out. You won’t see as many as you’re used to seeing,” said Michels, “We know we’ll be at every Walmart. You’ll see us at Hobby Lobby on and off throughout the season.”
Of course, you can always leave donations online and spread the message through social media.
“We’ve set up a virtual kettle with the Salvation Army, so you can go out and ring virtually,” says Michels.
You can find out more about the Salvation Army and their Angel Tree program on their Facebook page.