Angel tree

File photo

Angel Tree volunteer Andrea Janke, from left, White County Commissioners Administrative Assistant Donya Tirpak and Angel Tree expert Ellen Bartlett gather around the Angel Tree last year in the lobby of the White County Government Center.

MONTICELLO — Seventy-one children from roughly 30 families were registered on the first sign-up day of The Salvation Army/United Way Angel Tree program.

“We are looking forward to meeting even more White County residents in need of holiday assistance,” said Niki Jenkinson, executive director of the White County United Way.

According to Angel Tree volunteer Andrea Janke, the program, now entering its 16th year, is a partnership between the White County United Way and The Salvation Army — and its volunteers — to help families purchase clothes and toys for their children for Christmas. The goal is to “help make Christmas brighter for families during the holiday season,” according to Janke.

Those families also receive food vouchers.

“The Angel Tree program is not just for families with children,” Janke said. “Anyone who meets the income guidelines can register to receive a food voucher from the program.”

Last year 346 “angel kids” received toys and clothes from the program, with more than 140 families also supplied food. Funding for the food vouchers comes from The Salvation Army’s bell-ringing efforts each year.

“Individuals who volunteer to ring The Salvation Army bells are playing a large part in helping with the Angel Tree,” Janke said. “This year, we are hoping to help make Christmas merrier for families in need once again.”

Each Angel Tree is decorated with numbered paper angel tags containing the first name, age and gender of a child in need of a gift. Individuals, businesses, organizations, churches and classrooms “adopt” one or more tags and purchase appropriate gifts for the child or children described.

Gifts, with the tag attached, are donated unwrapped to The Salvation Army, which then gives them to parents so families may wrap the gifts for their children.

“There are many families in our area who have the Angel Tree as part of their Christmas tradition,” Janke said. “We have never had a problem with having all of the angels taken care of, which is proof of what a loving community that we live in.”

Angel tags are placed on trees at the White County Government Center, Monticello-Union Township Public Library and Sportsman Inn. Gift purchases must be new, and a suggested value is between $15-$30 for each gift. Volunteers usually remove price tags before they are handed to families.

There are three more registration days — Nov. 18 from 2-7 p.m. at the Monon Civic Center, 400 N. Market St., Monon; and from 2-7 p.m. Nov. 20 and Nov. 25 at the United Way office, 1001 Airport Road, Monticello.

“Angel ornaments will be on the trees before Thanksgiving,” Janke said.

To register, adults must provide a photo ID and a birth certificate for all children in a household, as well as proof of income for the last 30 days (pay stubs, unemployment, TANF, SS, SSI, child support, cash income, etc.) to meet income requirements.

Families must be residents of White County or Adams and Jefferson townships in Carroll County.

For more information, call United Way at 574-583-6544.