Salvation Army to bring holiday joy to children in Louisiana; Deadline for Angel Tree program extended

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BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) — Even though Christmas is months away, the Salvation Army wants to make sure families don’t have to decide between paying bills and buying gifts for their children. So, they’re taking steps toward making the holidays a little brighter.

The Salvation Army organizes an Angel Tree program every year so children all over the state have a special Christmas. And with so many more families in need of a helping hand, they’re extending the deadline to apply.

The initial deadline to apply for the program was Monday, Oct. 11, but Morgan Dailey with the Salvation Army of Greater Baton Rouge said the demand this year was so high that they decided to extend the deadline to Friday, Oct. 15 to open the opportunity for another 1,500 children.

“We still have so many people from the southern parishes in hotels and our evacuees from Ida and Baton Rouge, and with the long-lasting COVID shutdowns and the COVID furloughs, there’s a huge need this year as there was last year,” said Dailey. 

Child poverty in Louisiana is high, clocking in at 26.8 percent, ranking second in the country, according to the Louisiana Budget Project. The Director of Public Affairs for the Louisiana Budget Project, Davante Lewis said child poverty has been a problem long before the pandemic.

“Poverty is that we have had a pandemic for a long time and that was the pandemic of poverty,” Lewis said.

And the nonprofit is working to reduce poverty in the state. They said one way this is possible is by paying people what they are worth.

“The way to recover is to have good-paying quality jobs and that includes making sure that the floor is lifted up and that every Louisianan has a basic income that they can survive on and that includes raising the minimum wage,” Lewis said.

The Salvation Army wants to spread extra cheer this year and will add another 15,000 children to the Angel Tree Program. Parents can sign their child up to be adopted by the program, and then people donate toys and clothes based on provided lists. Parents then pick up the gifts the weekend before Christmas.

“Nobody wants to have to tell their children, ‘no, you can’t have something,’ especially not at Christmastime or have to explain why there’s nothing under the Christmas tree. So, it has helped a lot of people and I think it brought a lot of warmness to people’s hearts,” said Dailey.

Throughout the season, the biggest need is items for older children, ages 10-12 years old, and baby items. If you are unable to get out to shop for items, Dailey said that monetary donations help too.

“We have a huge buying power as the Salvation Army, so through monetary donations, we’re able to take that money and sometimes quadruple what you may be able to buy in a big box store,” said Dailey.

For more information on the Angel Tree Program, visit the Salvation Army website here

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