Salvation Army's Angel Tree Program could use some help

Bradenton organization has 2,200 children signed up for gifts this holiday season

vmannix@bradenton.comDecember 11, 2013 

A volunteer carries a bike to a family waiting to pick up their children's Christmas gifts during the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program on Dec. 21, 2011. HERALD FILE PHOTO

PAUL VIDELA — Paul Videla

BRADENTON -- The Salvation Army Manatee County's Angel Tree is sparse and needs more attention.

At least 2,200 area children from 800 families are signed up to receive gifts Dec. 19 through the Angel Tree program, but organizers say the number of donated presents is down.

"This has been a rough year for so many of our neighbors," program director Julia Showers said. "With so many families struggling and the shorter Christmas season this year, we haven't been able to collect all the gifts needed to provide for all the children registered."

Gift distribution is Dec. 19 at the Salvation Army Center for Worship and Service, 5328 24th St. E.

Angels became available at community locations on Nov. 1 and collection began Dec. 2, but only half of the registered angels were adopted this year. The remainder

will need to be filled from the makeshift toy shop.

"Our community and business partners are wonderful," said Maribel Garcia, Angel Tree coordinator. "However, despite their efforts and dedication to the program, our toy shop is still in need of more toys to fill all the wishes."

Among those items are:

• Learning games

• Puzzles.

• Books.

• Sports gear.

• Dolls.

• Art supplies.

• Jewelry.

• Electronics for boys and girls through 12 years old.

Angel Tree organizers say the hardest age group to fill is pre-teens.

"It's easy to shop for babies and toddlers, but it gets much harder to find things to interest the 10- to 12-year-olds," Garcia said.

Anyone interested in donating new, unwrapped toys or gifts to the Angel Tree toy shop can drop off their donations at The Salvation Army Center for Worship & Service any day from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For more information about The Salvation Army Angel Tree program, visit www.salvationarmybradenton.org. Or call 941-748-5110.

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix

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