This is the season of giving, and every year, local residents are generous in their donations to a wide range of charities and causes. But, thousands of people in our community – young and old – are at risk of falling between the cracks, and your help is needed now to give Christmas gifts to those in need.
Many children in the Quad Cities could wake up on Christmas morning without any presents under the tree unless a big boost in donations comes in for the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program – and fast.
“We’re still a few days away, a week from our toy distribution and we probably only have a quarter of those toys collected at this point,” said Patty Mixdorf, Volunteer Event coordinator for the Quad Cities Salvation Army.
Around 3,000 children are relying on the Angel Tree program for gifts this year, because their families are unable to afford them on their own.
“We’re serving those folks that may be out of work, that obviously live below the poverty levels and they might not have food for Christmas Day,” Mixdorf explained.
Some of those receiving toys are living at the Salvation Army’s shelter in Davenport, the only family shelter between Chicago and Des Moines. Every family receiving toys from the Salvation Army also receives a large box of food to ensure they can enjoy a Christmas meal.
And, while much of the food is donated or purchased through money raised through fundraisers like the Red Kettle campaign, the Salvation Army cannot afford to buy any toys to distribute, and relies 100 percent on community members to give enough toy donations to serve the need in our community.
“It’s just a huge, huge important thing for us to be able to distribute enough toys to folks that register,” said Mixdorf.
And, the Salvation Army ensures the families that register for Angel Tree gifts are not receiving gifts from other organizations like Toys for Tots or Friendly House. The groups all compare their registration lists and remove duplicates, to ensure the most families possible are served in the community.
“We know that the people in the Quad Cities are very generous and they always come through for us. This year we just need a little extra added push,” Mixdorf said.
Angel Trees are set up in both NorthPark and SouthPark malls, as well as Schnucks, and all Quad Cities Walmarts. Donations are being accepted through December 15th, so the toys can be distributed December 17th & 18th.
To donate to the Angel Tree program, simply take a tag off a tree at any participating location. Each tag includes the age and sex of a child in need as well as suggested gift ideas for that age group. Use that as a guide to pick out a toy to buy, then return that new, unwrapped toy to the location where you picked up the tag.
That is how the Home Instead Senior Care’s ‘Be a Santa to a Senior’ program works, too. Those trees are set up at Walgreens across the Quad Cities, and each one is decorated with tags containing the first name and age of a senior in need in our community, as well as their wish list for gifts this Christmas. Many are impoverished and alone for the holidays and are asking only for basic personal care items, like laundry detergent, blankets, socks and underwear, to help them get by.
“Anytime you give, it always comes back to you a hundred fold,” said Rose Tate, a Davenport resident who picked out a Be a Santa to a Senior tag off the tree at the Walgreens on Brady in Davenport on Tuesday.
Customers at all Walgreens in the Quad Cities also have another opportunity to provide essentials to elderly community members this Christmas by paying for a Senior Secret Santa tag at the register.
The Center for Active Seniors, Inc. is partnering with Walgreens to collect those monetary donations for the purchase of gifts and the provision of services for seniors during the holidays and through the year. Donors can choose the size of their gifts.
The CASI Secret Senior Santa program will run until December 31, 2014.
For more information on the Senior Secret Santa program, please contact Laura Kopp or Sammy Meier at (563) 386-7477.
For more information on the Be a Santa to a Senior program, call Home Instead Senior Care at (563) 359-0027 or visit http://beasantatoasenior.com/
For more information on the Angel Tree program, call Patty Mixdorf at the Salvation Army at (563)570-2072.
More bell ringers are always needed for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign, too. You can call Patty Mixdorf to sign up or go to www.RingBells.org