Angel Tree in Need of Donations - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Angel Tree in Need of Donations

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The Salvation Army angel tree has been brightening the holidays of local children for years. However, so far this year donations are down, while the organization says the need is up.

"Something that has been surprising this year is I received phone calls on the evenings and weekends. I was thinking it was a volunteer calling, but it was actually a family saying, 'I've never done this before how do I sign up for your toy program?' "

Salvation Army Development Director Holly Nomura says while there are always kids in need here in the Quad Cities, this is the first year she has personally gotten this many phone calls. She says her phone number is posted on the Internet.

"This a group of people that is going online searching for help."

Nomura says while the angel tree provides toys for about 3,000 kids, about 40 to 50 "first time" families have contacted her. Financial experts say while spending is up, there are several reasons why more families are asking for help. They say there are actually fewer people employed in the Quad Cities than one year ago. Especially in business services, leisure, and hospitality. Food inflation is also a factor hurting families, leaving them with no extra money for presents. Nomura says life changing events like a health issue or divorce are also factors that have left people in need this year.

 "A lot of people are living paycheck to paycheck and just don't have enough money for the extra toys. One family talked about how food and gas prices were too much for her to manage, when a family has a major incident that will really blow the budget, toys are definitely their last priority."

 Kids at the shelter decorated a tree with handmade ornaments, but right now there are no presents under it. That's something Nomura doesn't want any child to have to go see  Christmas morning.

"It really helps boost their self esteem and lets them know they are good. They just know their Christmas will be bright."

To donate you can pick up a name tag off any angel tree. That tag tells you whether you are buying for a boy or girl, and lists some of the toys they would like. The angel trees are located at both NorthPark and SouthPark malls, as well as all four area Wal-marts. You can return your gift to the place you picked up an angel tag.

Salvation Army leaders tell us the guide lines to register kids for the angel tree program do not include income guidelines. They only verbally ask families their monthly income and expenses. It is too late to register for the program, but not too late to buy a gift. The angel tree program will be collecting gifts until Saturday December 15th.