PARKERSBURG - Volunteers and officials with the Salvation Army of Parkersburg Corps are working around the clock to be ready for the annual Angel Tree program toy distribution on Thursday.
"It's going well," said Lt. Mechelle Henry with the Corps. "We are like Santa - double and triple checking the list to make sure it matches what are in the bags so the kids get what they asked for."
This year there are about 3,000 children from 1,600 families in the organization's coverage area of Wood, Calhoun, Jackson, Ritchie, Wirt and Pleasants counties. Of those, 492 families are from Wood County.
Photo by Jolene Craig
Jim Maley, right, co-chair for the Thanksgiving/Christmas committee for the Salvation Army of Parkersburg Corps, and Lt. Mechelle Henry, with the Corps, pose Tuesday in a sea of bags of toys, clothes and other gifts donated for the annual Angel Tree Christmas program at the Fifth Street offices.
The gymnasium at the Corps' Fifth Street location is filled with bags of clothes, toys and games separated out for each family while the meeting room in the basement is filled with dozens of bicycles for boys and girls of all ages and sizes.
"I've been doing this since 1976 and I don't think I've ever seen this many bicycles," said Jim Maley, co-chair for the Thanksgiving/Christmas committee for the Salvation Army. "We live in a good community - this does not happen everywhere."
Not only were the majority of children on the Angel Trees adopted by the community, but there are still others in need of having their wishes fulfilled, Henry said.
"We are asking the community for more donations of toys and money," Henry said. "We need Barbies and Monster High and Legos and if people don't have time to go shopping but still want to help, they can donate money and we will do the shopping."
Maley added that the goal of the Angel Tree program is to make sure every child has a nice Christmas.
"We do this program to help our community," Henry said. "We have people who wait until they hit rock bottom before they come to us for help and we don't want them to do that; we are here for them."
Henry also said there are likely people who want to help, but do not know how.
"We are still asking for volunteers to ring the bells at the red kettles and will take donations through Christmas Eve," she said.
Maley said one way to help is by donating to the red kettles, which are at store entrances throughout the community.
"The people who put their change into the red kettles need to know what their donations do," he said. "And this is it; every little bit helps to give children a good Christmas and a family a Christmas dinner."
This year's kettle drive began on Nov. 9, in time for Veterans Day and will be out at stores across the area until Christmas Eve.
"The little that you can give will do a world of good," Henry said. "You don't have to give generously, you just have to give."