ATU Angel Tree

Christmas Tree With Gifts

Photo | Ivan Radic | Creative Commons

For the sixth year in a row, Arkansas Tech University will be hosting one of the Salvation Army’s Angel Trees.

Arkansas Tech’s Panhellenic Council has partnered with the Salvation Army to put an Angel Tree in the Caraway Residence Hall. Students and faculty that are interested in helping out are asked to select a tag from the Christmas tree, and purchase a gift for that angel. On these tags are the names, clothes sizes, interests, and favorite colors of the child in need this Christmas.

Major Ben Walters, core officer at the Salvation Army, went into further detail about the history behind Angel Tree.

“It goes back to Lynchburg Virginia in 1979, where the Salvation Army officers in that community at that time, were trying to help the local children to be able to provide clothes and toys to those who otherwise would not receive anything during the Christmas season. So that program became our Angel Tree program and it allows us the opportunity to engage the community and help those who otherwise would not be able to provide for their children.”

Payton Youngblood, graduate assistant for fraternity and sorority life, shared what Angel Tree means for Arkansas Tech.

“The main goal is just kind of to get those children gifts for Christmas when they otherwise may not be able to get those gifts. It’s just a really big deal on Arkansas Tech’s campus, like I said CPC hosts it every year and everybody really looks forward to this event and being able to sponsor those children.”

There is a growing pattern with the families in need of Angel Tree support in Russellville, and with that comes a greater need for volunteers to support those angels.

“Last year we had 65 families, this year 91. One hundred and seventy angels last year; this year it’s 213, so the need is trending upward.”

Walters went on to say that they will provide each child with three toys and one set of clothing, but they are asking the public to help get each child around four to five gifts.

Gifts need to be returned by Dec. 14, and the Angel Trees will be up until that date as well or until all the angels are adopted, he said.

The Salvation Army looks toward Arkansas Tech for volunteers to help support this event in hopes that the impact of it all reaches further than just this community.

“When you graduate and you get your degree, you’re going back to your communities or wherever you end up, so the experiences that you have here are not only local, they go wherever you go. The impact that you are able to make in this community kind of becomes something that you can take to another community,” Walters said.

“Ever since I was in third or fourth grade, my family has sponsored at least one angel, and my mom has had several parents and just community members reach out to her about the impact it has made for them and their kids. If the Tech community here can even make some of that impact I think that is a success,” Youngblood said, adding, “it’s just really good to see the community come together and sponsor all of these children and just really make an impact both in the Tech community and in the Russellville community.”

Walters asked the community to think about the power of one individual, and what effect that has on others.

“When there is a community and you communicate the need and understanding that there is a need in every community, you just never know the impact. We’re all gifted in different ways, we all have our own friends and relationships, you just never know the power of one person. We’ve got 91 families that have come to us, and it does take a community to respond to this, but there is a lot of power in one.”