Local News

Thousands Benefit from Angel Tree Program

Packages and food awaiting distribution. The Salvation Army, Toys for Tots and Community Harvest Food Bank
are teaming up to provide resources for 
about 2,000 families. (WOWO Photos)


FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WOWO): It's not the North Pole, but it's close. Just off Coliseum Boulevard is a busy warehouse that could double as a temporary Santa's workshop.

Volunteers are in the midst of a bee hive of activity spreading Christmas cheer and charity. They are distributing food, toys and clothing to needy families with the Angel Tree program.

It's a partnership with Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army. Food is provided by Community Harvest Food Bank.

Tim Smith handles social services with the Salvation Army. He says, “this is what we've been working on for months now. Every single day we've building up to this moment where we are providing hope for all these families and a present under the tree for children.”

Just outside on the sidewalk, a woman packs items into the backseat and truck. Nearby her daughter – a little girl, probably three or four clutches a small black and white stuffed dog. 

It's an early gift from Angel Tree for any children who accompany parents.

She's too shy to find the words that express her joy. Her giggles and smile are say enough.

The moment wasn't lost in the busyness of helping.

“That's the moment we are looking for,” Smith said. “That happened because of the people that helped us.”

Sunny Helstrom coordinates the Toys for Tots program in northeast Indiana. She says she gives instruction to the volunteers who prepare the gift packages.

“As if they are bagging it for own boy or girl, their own grandchild or niece or nephew. She adds, “When they pick up a toy, I want them to know they are going to love it as much as their own child would.”

Leaders say hundreds of per-screened families, by some estimates as many as 2,000, will receive clothing, toys and food before they are done.

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