COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Those looking to give gifts this holiday season can look no further than a Christmas tree at the Peachtree Mall, next to the food court. The tree, decorated with paper slips and lights, is one of a few Salvation Army Angel Trees in the city.
Each paper ornament contains the wish list of a local child whose family is not in a position to pay for toys. This year, 1,003 children from the area have lists on trees as part of the Angel Tree program.
“There’s plenty of ways to gather around this initiative and really help the children in our area,” said Capt. Andre Pereira, commanding officer of the Salvation Army in the Chattahoochee Valley.
According to Pereira, locals looking to take part in the project can check out the tree at Peachtree Mall, select Walmart locations, or even call Columbus’ Salvation Army location directly to adopt a local child’s wish list.
The program includes newborns to children up to 12 years old. Each wish list is made by the child or their family. According to Pereira, the Salvation Army tries not to change wish lists, although they do monitor to make sure that gifts will be age-appropriate for each child.
Important to note, the Salvation Army asks that gift donations do not come wrapped. This is to make sure all toys are new, as well as appropriate for participating children. If gifts come wrapped, the Salvation Army team must unwrap them to verify they are appropriate, before rewrapping them to be given to children.
Applications to take part in the program opened in September of this year and closed once spots filled up in October, Pereira explained. The period to adopt an Angel and drop off their gifts at the Salvation Army’s Warm Springs Road location or other drop off locations ends on Dec. 6 of this year.
Pereira said this is because the toys will be distributed on Dec. 13, leaving the Salvation Army time to shop for children whose wish lists weren’t adopted, as well as wrap presents.
Last year, the Salvation Army spent $13,000 to fulfill the wish lists of local children who weren’t adopted from the program. This year, Pereira and his team are optimistic.
“We have no doubt the community will come around this year and make sure that this happens,” he said, noting the generosity of the local community.
Pereira continued, “We just have a feeling that this is going to be a good year for us.”
For more information, locals may contact the Columbus Corps for the Salvation Army by visiting or calling their Warm Springs Road location, or emailing online on the corps’ website.