Local Salvation Army Corps and several businesses have joined forces to make this holiday season one the needy children of the Inland Empire will never forget.
In San Bernardino County, these programs, known as the Angel Giving Tree programs, revolve around actual Christmas trees.
These trees will be set up in local malls the day after Thanksgiving to match shoppers with the hundreds of children in each location who are relying on the Salvation Army this year to bring a Merry Christmas.
Attached to branches of the tree are cards with names of children whose families simply cannot afford to buy gifts, as much as they would love to. Shoppers who want to take part by helping disadvantaged children simply pluck a tag off the Giving Tree, read the child’s name and wish list, then head for the appropriate store for a little sharing of their own.
“Why not start a tradition with your family and select a gift for a needy child together,” Capt. Nancy Ball said.
San Bernardino Corps puts its Giving Tree in the Inland Center Mall (500 Inland Center Drive, San Bernardino) near the food court.
“I always find it very heartwarming and satisfying to be able to purchase a gift for one of these children, based on his or her wishes,” said Tom Brickley, who is the president of the Salvation Army’s advisory board, and has participated in the Giving Tree for a number of years. “For some, it may be the only gift they get all year.”
“It is a neat way to give the child the gift he or she wants,” Brickley said. “Some want bicycles, some pants, others a specific toy.”
The Ontario Corps puts trees in Ontario Mills Mall (1 Mills Circle, Ontario) in front of JC Penney’s and Montclair Plaza (5060 E. Montclair Plaza Lane, Montclair) inside the Macy’s store. The Redlands Corps puts a tree at Wal-Mart (2050 W. Redlands Blvd. , Redlands).
However, not all corps have actual trees. The Riverside Corps asks shoppers to call (951) 784- 4490, ext. 114 to obtain the name of and requests of more than 2,000 children on its “Angel” list.
Since online shopping is also a popular way to buy Christmas gifts, JC Penney’s has a partnership with the Salvation Army allowing shoppers to go to jcp.com/angel and search for children (and in some places senior citizens) in any ZIP Code. The website allows online shoppers to order a gift for them from JC Penney’s onl ine catalog, and gives them the choice of dropping the gift off at their local Salvation Army’s collection center, or of having UPS ship it, at no charge, to that collection center.
The Salvation Army also is looking for other businesses in both San Bernardino and Riverside counties, who would like to have a tree at their place of business for employees and/or customers.
To host an Angel Tree in San Bernardino, Colton, Grand Terrace, Rialto, Bloomington or Highland, call (909) 888-1336. Elsewhere, call 1-(800)-SALARMY.