BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. — The Salvation Army in Blount County needs for your help with its angel tree program.
The deadline to adopt and shop for a child in need is Monday, Nov. 25, and as of Sunday, there were still names and wish lists hanging on trees in the community.
Each tag and every wish list hanging on a tree represents a child in need.
Janine Ekhardt knows first-hand the impact of the Salvation Army angel trees.
"I know when I was a child, I know I wouldn't have had Christmas if it wasn't for the angel tree program, and it's the same situation for these children we work with," Ekhardt explained.
Now as an adult, she works for the Salvation Army in Knoxville, the same organization that allowed her to have Christmas growing up. She helps under-served kids have that same experience she had.
"Every child deserves to have that feeling of joy and excitement on Christmas morning, and the angel tree program is what makes that possible," Ekhardt said
Here's how it works: you pick a tag off of a public angel tree, then you fill a bag with the child's wishes and then you return it to the designated drop off spot on the tag.
Captain Maureen Diffley with the Blount County Salvation Army emphasized how the holiday season is about giving back.
"This is a season that's not about us," Diffley said. "It's a season about returning, it's a season about thinking about vulnerable children."
"We have so much more demand this year than last year. Even though we had more community partners this year, we still need a little more help from the public than we have in the past," Diffley mentioned.
The nonprofit received 200 more applicants this year than last, which bumped their usual 240 recipients up to 440.
The deadline to turn in those gifts is Monday, Nov. 25. It's that early so the gifts can be organized and delivered by Dec. 7.
"So, it's so important that all the angels get adopted and shopped for and returned so that every child can have an exciting Christmas morning," Ekhardt said.
There is also a Salvation Army Silver Bells program aimed at seniors who need additional help during the holidays. Those tags are also on the angel trees in the county.
In Blount County, angel tree bags should be returned to National Fitness Center in Maryville.
Diffley said Salvation Army will continue to check National Fitness Center for returned angel tree bags for a couple of days after the deadline.