GRAY, Tenn. - Hundreds of families across the Tri-Cities received a Christmas present Thursday. When the Salvation Army handed out their presents for the kids selected for the 'Angel Tree' program.
Hundreds of toys were boxed up and ready to go just in time for Christmas and parents of needy kids across the Tri-Cities were thankful for this small Christmas miracle. "Everybody's struggling right now and it kind of helps us with just a little extra stuff that we can't afford to get," says parent William Weeks.
"This program helps to put a smile on our children's faces and like I said, it's a blessing," adds parent Massah Konneh.
The Angel Tree program starts in October when the families are evaluated and picked based on their income and need. "Most of them are on food stamps live in government or HUD housing those types of families," says Johnson City Salvation Army Captain Fallyn Garrison.
Garrison tells us this year they provided for more than 2,800 kids in Washington, Carter, and Unicoi Counties. They ask the donors who pick the angels to leave the presents unwrapped to keep the families involved. "To have a little ownership in this by being able to wrap these gifts up and knowing what's under the tree," adds Garrison.
After the presents are returned and sorted the parents can pick them up.
Each family receives an appointment card and on that card it has a number special to their child then volunteers find the present that matches the number and gives it to the families so their kids have something to open on Christmas morning. "They [my kids] have been waiting to receive these gifts from here and they are waiting for me happily," says Konneh.
While celebrating the spirit of the Christmas season and the generosity of so many all the parents can say is 'thank you,' "God bless them and Merry Christmas to them," says parent Jessica Davis.
The Salvation Army in Kingsport was also busy handing out gifts to more than 4,500 kids. They had an early Christmas miracle after Johnson City based J.D. Squared adopted the last 170 angels from the tree. The response was the same for grateful parents when they saw the presents. "Families pick up their gifts that somebody went lovingly shopping for and see their tears and their gratefulness it's a wonderful feeling," says Sharon Baso with the Kingsport Salvation Army.
Both Salvation Army groups say if you want to still give you can donate to their Red Kettle Campaign that goes through Christmas Eve because all on the money stays locally and goes to help with programs like the Angel Tree.