Salvation Army reaches out to feed local families
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Toys, gifts and food boxes provided by the Salvation Army will brighten the Christmas holidays for more than 1,000 families living in Morgan, Lawrence and Limestone Counties, according to Major David Singletary, commander of the Decatur unit.
"Our angel trees are decorated with requests for gifts from 730 children of needy families," Singletary said. "Gift packages from donor families are already coming in and we expect all of the gift wish lists to be filled by the Dec. 19 deadline. Any family willing to become a gift donor is invited to take an angel cutout from one of the trees, purchase the requested toys or gifts and return them to the Salvation Army office on 14th Avenue."
Trees are located at Wal-Marts in Decatur, Hartselle and Athens and at Cracker Barrel restaurants in Decatur and Athens.
Angel trees are also located at Hardees in Decatur and Hartselle. The ornaments on these trees are not identified by the name of the recipient but request gifts based on gender and age.
"We use these gifts to take care of children whose needs are brought our attention after the regular angel trees are decorated," Singletary pointed out.
Singletary has been with the Salvation Army for 37 years but is new to the Decatur area.
"This is the first appointment I've had where all of the Christmas tree angels were taken," he pointed out.
In addition to providing toys and gifts for deserving children, the Salvation Army plans to distribute 900 Christmas food boxes to needy families in the three-county area.
"We are now collecting canned goods and other staple food items from drives being conducted by schools, churches and community organizations." Singletary said. "The food boxes will contain about 40 items, including a meat, and will feed a of four for over a week."
Distribution of angel tree gifts and food boxes will take place in Athens in Dec. 21 and Decatur on Dec. 22. Singletary said recipients will be notified by letter of the time they should arrive to pick up their gifts.
Singletary said volunteers will be ringing bells for donations at Salvation Army kettle stands at Hartselle's Wal-Mart and other locations through Christmas Eve.
"We still need helpers for weekends and Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday before Christmas," he pointed out. Anyone wishing to volunteer is urged to contact the Salvation Army office at 353-2822.
Mechanical kettle bell ringers will be used for the first time at Books-A-Billion and Hibbett's Sporting Goods in River Oaks Mall, according to Singletary. Cardboard cutouts, one male and one female, are used to man the kettles. They are mechanically controlled and have the ability to raise an arm up and down to ring their bells and say "thank you" after a donation is placed in their kettles.
"Books-A-Million has pledged to match donations nationwide up to $10,000," Singletary said.
"I'm excited about this holiday season," Singletary said. "It's always a thrill to watch as people respond with generosity to meet the needs of those less fortunate."