Seven hundred area children still need an “angel” to help them this Christmas, the commander of the local Salvation Army said Monday.
Major Butch Mallard said the Elizabeth City Salvation Army’s annual Angel Tree Christmas Drive ends this Saturday, and as of Monday, donors had stepped up to help a little more half of the 1,600 children registered for the event.
Low-income families were invited to sign up for the drive this fall, and their children’s names were placed on paper cards cut in the shape of angels. The cards, which suggest toys the children might enjoy and include their clothing sizes, were then hung on Christmas trees placed around the community in mid-November.
Sixteen hundred angels were placed on the trees, 300 more than last year, Mallard said. So far, however, only 900 of the angels have been picked up by donors.
The Salvation Army is trying to make a final push to have the remaining 700 children covered by donations before this weekend. Due to the time needed to process and deliver donations before Christmas, the drive’s last day is Saturday.
Mallard said the Salvation Army was able to secure donations for all 1,300 children signed up for the drive last year.
That so many more people signed up this year is an indication many area residents are still struggling through a difficult economy, he said.
“A lot of families can’t afford Christmas gifts because (the parents) have been laid off,” Mallard said. “We still haven’t progressed into the growth other areas in the nation have seen.”
The calendar didn’t help matters either, Mallard explained. The Salvation Army starts its Angel Tree drive — as well as its Red Kettle drive — a week before Thanksgiving. Because Thanksgiving fell very late in November, the Salvation Army’s charitable drives “snuck up” on a lot of people, Mallard said. That late start has even left the Red Kettle drive about $5,000 behind where it was last year. That drive, which collected $105,000 last year, continues through Dec. 24.
Mallard said angel trees are on display at various Elizabeth City locations, including: Walmart, IHOP, Vicki Villa, Roses, Southgate Mall and JC Penney’s. The Elizabeth City Salvation Army serves Hertford, Gates, Chowan, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Camden and Currituck counties.
People can drop off donations where they pick up an angel, or they can drop off donations at the Salvation Army’s office at 602 N. Hughes Blvd., Elizabeth City. For more information, call 338-4120.