It does not cost much to put a smile on child's face this holiday season. This Christmas, the Salvation Army is teaming up with the Hastings community to give back to children in need, with their Angel Tree program.
Trees located in the entrances of many local grocery stores and inside malls are covered in tags that hold the key to each child's Christmas wish. Cheerful givers take Christmas list tags to buy gifts for families in need.
Last year, about 10,000 toys were donated — and this year there will be more, according to the Hastings Salvation Army's Major Abe Tamayo.
Year after year, Tamayo prepares the trees for tagging. "My wife volunteers to hand write these angel tags each Christmas to give the information to the community in hopes it returns to the child," he said.
Donors purchase a gift and leave it at the designated spot indicated on the tag. Gifts do not need to be more than $5. "You might have a 6-year-old boy who wants a table top foosball game, " he said, "or a girl wants a Barbie doll."
Sometimes, gifts are more expensive, and have a deeper background story. "A few years ago a little boy had a terminally ill disease and wanted a bicycle. The community help purchased the bike through the Angel Tree with that Christmas wish," Tamayo recalled.
Tamayo and volunteers deliver the personal gifts. "It's very rewarding to see the children's faces come a glow to open the gift that they've asked for," he said.
To receive gifts, families in need must complete an application before December 16th, which can be found at TSAHastings.com.
To donate, here is a list of locations in Hastings with Angel Trees: