“I wanted to buy my baby something,” said Williams, adding that the children would have received presents only from two relatives if not for the Salvation Army program. “I wanted my boys to have some toys.”
Williams, of Augusta, found herself needing Christmas assistance after maternity leave left her short on spare spending money.
Through the Angel Tree Christmas program, parents of 2,353 children ages newborn to 12 years received bags full of gifts and a stocking.
The families applied to the Salvation Army and requested toys and clothing based on financial need. Those wishlists were placed on angel trees across the Augusta area for community members to collect, purchase the items and return them to the Salvation Army. Other toys for the program came from Toys for Tots.
“This day is when all the hopes and wishes of the children are met,” said Capt. Wilma Mason, Salvation Army of Augusta’s administrator.
The number of families requesting assistance increased this year, Mason said. Many of those families applied to the program for the first time.
“They’ve held on as long as they can,” she said. “They really didn’t know what to do next.”
Distribution began at 9 a.m. at the old Save-a-Lot grocery store on Wrightsboro Road. Freezers and coolers were stuffed with the goods, and more than 100 volunteers sorted the bags and delivered grocery carts filled with items to families’ cars.
Felicia Jackson, of North Augusta, wished for a baby doll for her 6-year-old daughter and games for her 9-year-old son. The single mother planned to wrap the gifts from Santa Claus.
“I was short on cash to get Christmas gifts for the kids,” Jackson said. “It’ll be exciting because they’ll wake up with gifts under the Christmas tree.”