PARKERSBURG - There are more than 4,000 children with names on Christmas trees in stores and restaurants throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley this year, officials said.
"We will end up with about 600 families with more than 3,000 children to provide Christmas for this year," said Major Vernon Dolby with the Salvation Army Parkersburg Corps, which is up from 500 families with more than 2,000 children last year.
Similarly, the Marietta Corps expects to aid about 200 families with about 1,500 children, said Capt. Lori Brown with the Salvation Army Marietta Corps.
Photo by Jolene Craig
Angel Trees, sponsored by the Salvation Army, are in businesses throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley for good samaritans to adopt a child or children to give them a good Christmas.
"This is up a bit from previous years, but it's not as many as other offices have," Brown said.
Dolby said the 490 applications for the holiday aid his office had received by Nov. 19 were more than at that time in the previous years.
"We're ahead of last year, definitely," he said.
More than 1,000 families in the Mid-Ohio Valley will have a better Christmas with the help of the Salvation Army Corps in Parkersburg and Marietta and the kindness of the community.
The number of families that have applied for the assistance has increased this year.
Money to fund the yearly gift-giving for children and food baskets comes from red kettle collections and other donations to the Salvation Army.
The Parkersburg office on Fifth Street will continue to take late applications through Dec. 18.
"We will never close the applications, as long as there is a real need," Dolby said.
Brown said the 200 families her office is working with is about 60 more than last year.
"It's a significant difference," she said.
The majority of the gifts for the children are purchased by community members who have a little extra to give and select a child from an Angel Tree, Christmas trees decorated with paper angels which are in stores and restaurants. The angels represent children only, Dolby said.
"The bulk of the angels are usually adopted by good samaritans in the community, which is fantastic," he said.
The angels left over are provided for by the Salvation Army office their families applied for assistance through.
"We are here to take care of the people and make sure the children have a Christmas," Dolby said. "We will worry about the bills later."
The Salvation Army is able to provide a good holiday for the children through donations, more specifically the red kettles.
"There are many ways people can help," Dolby said, "by adopting a family or child and by sponsoring a kettle online and giving at a kettle."
Dolby said anyone can sponsor an online kettle (give.salvationarmyusa.org) with proceeds going to the location of their choice.
The annual red kettle drive in Parkersburg began early with about a dozen being at locations on Nov. 12 and the rest of the 28 kettles placed throughout Wood and Jackson counties on "Black Friday."
"We were down last year and are hoping the little extra time we had this year will give us what we need," Dolby said.
The kettle drive in Marietta began Nov. 22. The kettles in both drives will be out until 3 p.m. Christmas Eve.
Angel Trees are now out in stores and restaurants throughout the community.
While Angel Trees are for children's holiday gifts, the Salvation Army provides a meal basket to each family so they will be able to have a Christmas dinner.
If there are funds left over after the holidays, they are used in the community for other Salvation Army services including rent assistance, food, clothing and some prescriptions.
Volunteers are needed to ring the bells at the kettles. There are no collections on Sundays. Those interested in volunteering in the Parkersburg drive can call 304-485-4529 Ext. 203.