Volunteers blessed, clients appreciative of Angel Tree program

Dawn J. Sagert
York Dispatch

Numerous volunteers worked with staff to distribute thousands of gifts to 1,802 children from 942 families through the Salvation Army's Angel Tree gift program Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 19-20.

Parents and guardians are escorted by shopping assistant volunteers to choose gifts for their children during the first of two Angel Tree gift distribution days in York City, Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017. The program is providing toys to 1,802 children from 950 families this year. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Each child was to receive a minimum of three gifts, according to Angel Tree program coordinator Kirra Riddick, who is also an administrative assistant at the Salvation Army in York City. The United Way was also on location, offering free gift wrapping.

“These toys are not from the Salvation Army,” Riddick said Tuesday. The children receive the gifts from their parents, not the organization, she said.

“Maybe the parents are already providing the housing and clothing, and they aren’t able to do the extra,” Riddick said. That's where the Angel Tree program steps in.

Each family was given an appointment time, but that didn’t stop them from lining up outside of the building on East King Street well before. Tables filled with toys for specific age groups filled the gym, and one parent per family was taken shopping when it was their turn.

Retired York Suburban elementary reading specialist Pam McIntosh, of Springettsbury Township, was dressed for the holidays in her red sweater with glittery stars and a festive headband. She couldn’t remember if it was her third or fourth year volunteering with the program, but she said she counts it as a privilege to be able to give back.

“I’ve been very blessed in my life, and the people are very appreciative,” McIntosh said. “I make a point to have time in my holiday season to do this.”

Daniellie Cole, of York City, made her way around the gym shopping for her two sons, ages 6 and 10.

“This is my first time seeing this. I never knew that they had it,” Cole said. “I’m here for my two children, and this helps me out a lot because it provides for them, as far as Christmas goes. They’ll be happy to see that they have more under the tree.”

The clients aren’t the only ones who are appreciative.

Riddick says the majority of the items were donated from Angel Trees stationed in various locations around the area.

“Without York County providing this,” Riddick said, ”none of this would be possible.”