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Bloomington Salvation Army program expects to help 750 kids this season

bikes toys

(Devan Ridgway, WFIU/WTIU News)

The Salvation Army helps families with children every year during the holidays, filling bags with toys and clothes.

The annual Angel Tree program was brought back this year which allowed the community to adopt and donate items off a child or family’s Christmas wishlist. 

The Bloomington location has been preparing for the holidays since the beginning of the year, expecting to help around 750 kids. Christmas trees were placed around the Bloomington area with name tags of families or children for potential donors to take. 

Major Cindy Hoag looks forward to this program and believes every family or child should have the opportunity to have a gift to open on Christmas morning.

“If someone isn’t adopted, we try to fill that in, we try very hard to make sure they have at least two outfits and maybe six or seven toys and finding what they like when they’re very specific is not always easy but we do do our best,” said Hoag.

Items such as books, bedding, clothes, and the newest toy out there are what families are putting on their lists. Other specific items include sensory toys for the babies. Some families have even asked for bikes for their children that donors are happy to provide, says Hoag. 

The most needed donation is money to help with buying extra items that donors did not give.

“Christmas is interesting because I call it the gift that keeps giving because the money that we raise at Christmas supports our work throughout the year,” said Hoag.

Families are qualified for the Angel Tree Program if they are under a certain income level or on food stamps and need to provide proof of address and income as well as the children’s birth certificates.

“Most of them that come in do it need and we are so grateful to be able to help them and they come in with beautiful smiles and cheerful hearts and that’s wonderful,” said Hoag. 

The pandemic has not affected Hoag and her team and says the numbers of donations and volunteer sign ups have been low compared to previous years. Hoag says she has seen more younger volunteers this year. 

Hoag says their goal this year is $270,000 and are currently at 65%.

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