Angel Tree

At Lumber House, the Dickinson County angel tree stands with 112 angels ready to be adopt by a local Santa Claus.

Local Salvation Army and H.O.P.E Center Volunteer Teresa Weishaar looked at the bare Christmas tree and took a deep breath before starting the process of hanging some of this year’s 112 “angels” on it.

The “angels” represent 112 children in need in the community. The paper slips bear those children’s Christmas wish lists — lists that might not be fulfilled without a little extra help from the community this year. 

The angel tree became an annual tradition in Abilene for the past five years after she asked a question of the H.O.P.E Center, where she has been volunteering since two days after she retired in 2013. 

“They are the Salvation Army presence for Dickinson County and I asked ‘Why don’t we have the angel tree because they had one over in Salina, Junction City, why don’t we have it here?” Weishaar said.

After asking this, Weishaar became the tree coordinator — something she has done for the past five years — and joined a 40-year tradition of angel trees in the United States. 

“Every Christmas there are children who do not receive gifts because their families are struggling financially and cannot afford the expense,” according to the Salvation Army. “The Salvation Army’s angel tree program has been running for over 40 years to ensure that these children have a wonderful holiday season with their families.”

In Dickinson County, families can sign up their children if they fill income guidelines by meeting 150% of the poverty level, same as most government programs. They also let parents sign up children ages 16 to 18, if the child is still attending high school.  

For the 2021 angel tree, the Christmas wish lists of 112 kids — representing 36 families in Dickinson County — will hang on the tree. The tree will stay in the Lumber House until all angels are adopted. 

“So a family comes up here and they decided that they would like to adopt an angel,” Weishaar said. “Some people choose an angel that has the same name as their child, sometimes they’ll choose one that’s the same age or likes the same things that their child does.”

Weishaar even remembers one time where the parents allowed their children the responsibility of playing Santa Claus. 

“There was this family here with three kids and they had adopted three of angels, one for each child,” Weishaar said “The mother told the kids now if we do this, you guys are going to get one less present and the kids were so excited they ran around the store. Oh mom, this is on clearance. This is really cool. So I just stood there in the aisle and cried because it was just so cool to see kids wanting to share.”

She feels the angel trees allow children to feel the love of their community.

“It shows kids that there are adults other than their parents and their family that care about them,” Weishaar added. “Are Christmas presents required? No — but you know for some children that their family is living on the edge. They get food stamps, they have free lunches, they get their clothes from the food and clothing bank. It’s a chance where they can actually get something new and have the same thing that their friends at school have.” 

Adopting an angel 

For those wanting to adopt an angel, the Angel Tree will be at the Lumber House located at 1903 North Buckeye Ave. in Abilene. The angel tag will bear the name, age and Christmas wish list of the child. 

After signing up to adopt, the gift giver will need to follow some guidelines set by the Salvation Army: limit to no more than $30, new items, no large item such as bikes, if the gift needs batteries please purchase them as well and wrap the gifts or place them in a gift bag. 

Once gifts have been picked and wrapped with care, Santa Clauses will need to drop them off at Lumber House by 4 p.m. on Dec. 13. 

Volunteering 

Weishaar pointed out a need for volunteers next year to assist with the Angel Tree Program. Volunteers may assist with “getting the angels on the tree, helping sort the gifts, helping hand out the gifts,” she said.

For people who want to volunteer, please call the H.O.P.E Center at 785-273-4673 

 

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