Salvation Army’s holiday program sets new age limit

Angel Trees will feature only kids 12 and younger due to financial difficulties; however, local group will sponsor a new teen program

As the holiday season approaches, local residents can expect some familiar sights, such as paper angels hanging from trees in shops and restaurants.

But The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program is slightly different this year. The program allows the public to sponsor underprivileged children by buying them Christmas gifts.

Anyone can snatch an angel from one of several trees – the ornament gives the child’s name, age and Christmas wishes. Gifts are dropped off at The Salvation Army office, where workers gather and distribute them to families. Angel Trees will be in stores beginning Nov. 19.

But this year, donators will not find wishes from teenagers. Other organizations are stepping up to sponsor older children.

Unlike previous years, The Salvation Army has imposed an age limit of 12 and school youth service centers did not submit children’s names. Instead, all families applied directly through The Salvation Army.

Still, the number of participants is on par with last year’s total of 3,500, Salvation Army Maj. Carla Binnix said.

The Salvation Army reduced its age limit mainly for financial reasons. It’s difficult for many people, including the organization, to sponsor teenagers because they request and need more expensive items.

Last year, The Salvation Army sponsored some children, mainly teenagers, whose names were not picked from a tree. The organization spent more than $10,000 on those gifts, and a handful of children did not receive gifts, Binnix said.

So, a local group is spearheading a new program called Teen Angel. Through the program, people may donate money or gift cards to local organizations, which will distribute the money to local family resource centers to purchase gifts for underprivileged teenagers.

The project is sponsored by Bowling Green’s Vision Multi-Agency Coalition. People can make donations until Dec. 9 at Community Education, the Housing Authority of Bowling Green’s learning center or the ALIVE Center.

“The Salvation Army was having a hard time meeting the demands of the Angel Tree,” said Anne Grubbs, enrichment and volunteer coordinator for Community Education. “This kind of takes Salvation Army out of the loop because it was too much.”

The Salvation Army also decided not to work with youth service centers in an attempt to curtail the number of applicants and to prevent duplicate applicants, Binnix said.

“That’s a hard time in people’s lives when they’re having to get that kind of help,” she said. “The way the job market is right now, we’re able to help a family provide a Christmas they’re used to giving to their child and all of a sudden are struggling to do.”

Local youth service centers have worked with The Salvation Army for years, referring children to the Angel Tree program. Last year, Warren Elementary School submitted about 400 names to the organization, said Amy Carter, family resource center director.

Now, Carter is working with The Salvation Army to determine how many of her students are participating in the program, and the youth service center is looking into making Christmas baskets for low-income families. Those baskets will include essential needs, such as laundry detergent and soap, that food stamps do not cover, she said.

“So that can free up money and they can buy their child what they really need,” she said.


Mink, Jenna (2010, October). Salvation Army’s holiday program sets new age limit. Bowling Green Daily News. Retrieved from