Christmas 'angel' makes trees work for Salvation Army

December 04, 2003|EMILY BURTON

Good will toward men is not a catch phrase in a Christmas card for Salvation Army volunteer Tammy Carr. It is the spirit of Christmas that keeps her car packed with gifts for children she has never met and her hands full of paper angels.

She is a woman on a mission to save Christmas.

Carr, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker, is a volunteer with the Salvation Army and a participant in the Angel Tree program. Each year she and her family take the names of needy children from the tree, written on angels, and buy clothes, shoes and toys for those whose chimney Santa might have missed.

"Somehow we pull it together. My family and I get names off the Angel Tree, and the last couple of years, a lot of the time when we drop off our gifts, the Salvation Army has children nobody picked," said Carr. "I'm determined that nobody will be left down there at all."


That was the case last year when she arrived with a car full of gifts for her angels. Despite the hard work of Santa's substitute elves, several names still hung on the Angel Trees, waiting to be picked, after the deadline had passed.

Salvation Army Captain Zack Bell remembered Carr's reaction when she learned some children would have to do without.

"She was a life saver to the Salvation Army last year. The Angel Tree program wasn't going as we had hoped and needed it to be," said Bell. "Tammy took it upon herself to either recruit people from her office to get gifts or got gifts herself for literally hundreds of kids last year. She stepped in and helped that program when it was really in need."

"I believe that nobody should be left behind at Christmas. I just do it for the kids," said Carr.

Carr said that the personal satisfaction she feels when a child has a coat to wear this winter, when they otherwise might not have, keeps her coming back.

With Carr's help, and with the multitude of fellow volunteers, many donation needs have already been met this season. Angel Trees in local businesses are being picked bare before the Dec. 10 drop-off deadline. Local companies have taken hundreds of angels to distribute in the workplace, places like American Greetings, Centre College and many local banks.

But while the first batch of angels have flown, there is still a large need for those forgotten angels, still without gifts at the Salvation Army.

"Because of the overwhelming support of the community, all the angels have been taken off the trees," said Bell. "Now we're starting the Forgotten Angel program."

Families who did not sign up in time to receive Angel Tree gifts are still calling the Salvation Army, asking for help. They have been dubbed the Forgotten Angels, and Bell is asking the community to help him make their Christmas bright.

"Christmas is the one time of year the Salvation Army tries to never say no," said Bell.

Unwrapped gifts and clothing can still be donated to the Salvation Army on Fourth Street, which will sort them by age group and size. They will be distributed Dec. 19 to the families still in need.

"We've had an overwhelming response (for help), and so those forgotten angels are just as important," said Bell.

In addition to the gift, the families will also receive a turkey, vegetables, a cake, wrapping paper and stockings, already stuffed for Christmas.

Angel Trees can be found at Subway, the Wal-Marts in Danville, Harrodsburg and Stanford, and Ace Hardware. Gifts for the program can be placed under the tree the angel came from, the coded name tag attached to the unwrapped package. The Angel Tree angel is kept by the gift-giver as a memento of their random act of kindness.

"We're very grateful for what the community has done, by becoming an Angel of Hope," said Bell. "But we encourage more help, because we're still finding more need as the season goes along."

"Thirty minutes out of your life is a small, small donation compared to the joy it can bring a child," said Carr.

Central Kentucky News Articles