This year, The University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Community and Civic Engagement (CCCE) partnered with Salvation Army for the annual Angel Tree Adoption program.
The Angel Tree Program provides gifts of new clothing and toys to children who, otherwise, might not have anything for Christmas. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to adopt an angel for Christmas by stopping by the CCCE office and giving a gift to those in need.
Salvation Army collects names of children whose families are unable to provide a traditional Christmas for them. The organization determines the children’s’ needs and wants are – in terms of Christmas – and creates a list. The CCCE then collects the list from the Salvation Army, makes angles for people to “adopt” and places the angels on a tree.
The CCCE has about 95 angels on its tree. The angels on the tree each have a different child’s Christmas gift requests. The children participating in the program vary in age and typically request items such as clothes, bicycles, watches, toys or necessities for school or daily activities.
Director for CCCE Christy Arrazattee said the program is significant for reminding participants of the importance of Christmas to young children.
“I think that a lot of us have had the opportunity to have a big Christmas, and we all remember how special it is,” Arrazatte said. “It’s important to still give children that magic even though their parents may not be able to afford it for them.”
Arrazattee said the program is convenient for those who are looking for a way to give back during the holidays.
“It is also a good chance for students who might not get off campus that much or faculty and staff who don’t know where to go to easily be able to come and give during the season,” she said.
The children who are recipients of Angel Tree gifts are from families who have applied for Christmas assistance through the social services program of The Salvation Army. During the application process, the clothing sizes and special needs of the children are determined and written on the application and is then transferred to paper angels along with the child’s first name, age and sex.
Philanthropy Chair of the National Pan-Hellenic Council Johntre Goudy said he encourages each organization within the council to support an angel.
“At the end of the day, this is the time of the year where people tend to go through hardships,” Goudy said. “So if you can make something special for anybody, why not? That’s what we are here for, we’re here to serve.”
As philanthropy chair, Goudy and organizations within the council selected a total of seven angels from the tree. That will be seven children who will receive an abundance of gifts on Christmas Day.
“A lot of the time we all become numb to the fact that other people are hurting because we’re not going through the same pain,” Goudy said. “At some point, we have to just try to put ourselves in their shoes because they never chose to be put into the situation they are in. Somebody is out there doing the best they can for them, so why not help out when you can?”
The Angel Tree Adoption Program will run from now through December. Those who are interested in adopting an angel may stop by the CCCE’s office in the HUB room 104. The CCCE and Salvation Army ask that gifts be dropped off unwrapped and no later than Dec. 10.