Many children do without every Christmas and the Angel Tree program is trying to change that, one child at a time. The program used to be run by the department of Human Services (DHS) but is now run by individuals with the help of DHS.
The Angel Tree program is designed to help people, help people. The trees are decorated with paper angels that have a child's wish list on them. A person can take an angel and purchase the gifts listed on the angel and then return the gifts along with the angel to the Sharp County DHS.
Peggy Goodwin, of Sharp County DHS, helps run the Angel Tree Program. Goodwin said there are over 500 families signed up for help this year.
The gifts have to be turned into DHS no later than Dec. 9. There will be a gift wrapping party for the gifts that have been collected at the Highland Hills Baptist Church Dec. 11 and 12. Goodwin said volunteers are appreciated.
After the gifts are wrapped the families will be contacted to pick up their gifts. Goodwin said there is an Angel Tree fund at FNBC where donations are placed to help with the expense of purchasing the gifts that have not been purchased by individuals.
"All of the children who are on the trees receive gifts," Goodwin said. "After all of the donations are collected, we sit down and see how much money we have and determine how much we can spend on each child."
Goodwin said the Ash Flat Walmart is a huge contributor to the program. Walmart donates wrapping paper every year and when they go to purchase the remaining gifts, they have a cashier they use every year who is very helpful. "Her name is Kathy (the cashier). She always wears festive hats and she knows our system," Goodwin said. "We try to make sure she is going to be the one helping us."
Goodwin said if a business would like to host an angel tree, all they have to do is contact her and tell her how many names they would like for their tree.
There are currently angel trees at FNBC, Walmart and Alco. Businesses can also choose to deliver their own gifts which is what the Elks, Cave City Bank and Cherokee United Methodist Church are doing this year.
It is asked that the gifts not be wrapped when they are taken to DHS. "We ask this, so we can make sure siblings get an even amount of presents," Goodwin said. "We have also had people wrap used items and we will not give children used items for Christmas."
Goodwin said they are also doing a fundraiser, selling beef jerky and neck lanyards (around the neck name badge holder) at the Highland High School home basketball games. The money earned from the fundraisers will go towards the angel tree fund. Goodwin said if there is anyone interested in buying or selling beef jerky to contact her.
Goodwin can be reached at the Sharp County DHS. The number is 870-856-1053.