Angel Tree sign-up deadline approaching

Salvation Army annual gift distribution registration open through Nov. 18

BIG RAPIDS — The weather may have more people thinking of golfing or gardening than Christmas gift giving, but the deadline to sign up for toys from the Salvation Army Angel Tree program is approaching quickly.

Families can register until Friday, Nov. 18, to receive gifts. The Angel Tree program benefits children from birth to age 14 and families need to visit the Salvation Army office, loca

ted at 325 Linden St., Big Rapids.

“We’ve had 60 families sign up already, but there’s still time left,” said Chris Vallette, development director. “The community is willing to help and we encourage families who need help at Christmas to come in and register.”

Families must register in person and bring the following:

  • Social Security cards for everyone in the household.
  • Proof of income for the past 30 days.
  • A valid ID showing their current address.

The Salvation Army program helps children in Mecosta, Osceola, Lake and Newaygo counties. The lists are compared with other toy giveaways in those counties to make sure there is no duplication of efforts so as many different families as possible receive assistance.

“If anyone signs up with another toy distribution, they have to stay with that program,” Vallette said.

Last year, the program provided Christmas gifts to 1,059 children in 247 families. More than 7,300 gifts were donated for distribution in the four-county service area in 2015.

“We had our best year of donated toys last year,” Vallette said. “We had very few left after distribution last year to carry over to this year. We definitely need items donated.

“Our donation boxes are out right now, at various locations around Big Rapids and on the Ferris State University campus, or people can drop donations off here at the office from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.”

Community support and toy donations are the driving force behind the Angel Tree program, Vallette said.

“We’re thankful for the support in the past for the Angel Tree program and trust the community will partner with us again to help all the children registered with the program to have a joyful Christmas,” he said.

McDonald Chrysler is again donating the use of a vehicle to collect the toys left in donation boxes around town as well as sponsoring some toy drive events to help make sure enough gifts will be on hand for the mid-December distribution, he added.

“Our mission is to make sure every child has an opportunity to open a gift on Christmas morning,” Vallette said.