POCATELLO — Officials with The Salvation Army outpost in Pocatello want to give local families in need a merry Christmas, but they need the community’s help.
That’s why they’ve set up Angel Trees at several locations.
“There are many children who will go without any Christmas gifts this year without our help. The Angel Tree program helps to provide Christmas gifts to those families,” said Lt. Sara Evans, an officer-in-charge at the outpost. “Through generous donations from our community, The Salvation Army provides gifts to local children as well as means for each family to have Christmas dinner — both things that can mean so much joy for so many people.”
All of the families participating in the program this year have gone through an interview process to ensure they qualify. For instance, they have to live in Bannock County and be in financial need.
“We are guided by the food stamp financial qualification,” Evans said. “However, we recognize that there are many families that make too much money to qualify for food stamps who are still struggling to make ends meet let alone provide for Christmas. In most cases, these families will still qualify for our program. We do not want anyone who is in need this year to go without if we can help them.”
This year, Angel Trees are located at several businesses in the Pocatello-Chubbuck area: Walmart, Idaho Central Credit Union branches, Gold’s Gym, Sunsations and the Pine Ridge Mall.
Each of the trees are covered in tags bearing the names of local “angels” and the types of items they could use for Christmas.
Evans said people can select one or more angels from the tree and use the gifts suggested on the tags to shop for them. Once they’ve purchased the items, they should securely attach the bottom half of the tag and/or code number on the tag to the gifts.
“Once this is done, return the new, unwrapped gifts to The Salvation Army barrel or customer service located at any Angel Tree location,” Evans said. “The top half of the Angel tag is for you to keep and hang on your own tree as a reminder that you made a difference in a child’s life this Christmas.”
Those who are doing their shopping online this year can still help by utilizing Walmart’s Registry for Good, which is similar to a wedding gift registry, Evans said.
They have listed their cause, Angel Tree Bannock County, on the registry, which can be found at bit.ly/2KoA3eu. People can shop for the items listed and choose to have the gifts sent directly to The Salvation Army at checkout.
Community members can also buy items through their preferred online store and deliver them unwrapped to The Salvation Army outpost, located at 400 N. Fourth Ave. in Pocatello, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“We need gifts for kids ages 0 to 17,” Evans said, adding that they could use toys, books, clothes, electronics, bikes, sports equipment, games and other items.
The Salvation Army plans to distribute the gifts on Dec. 22, so officials say they need all of the donations by Dec. 17.
Evans encourages people to get involved and help bring a smile to the faces of local families in need.
“Anyone who chooses to be a donor can be confident that no matter the size of their donation, they have made a difference to a family in this community — a difference that can last a lifetime,” she said.
While this year’s families have already been selected, Evans said they recognize the need is greater than usual. Subsequently, they have created a waiting list that will remain open until 4 p.m. on Nov. 30. Those in need of assistance can contact The Salvation Army at 208-232-5318 or send them a message on “The Salvation Army — Pocatello, ID” Facebook page before that time.
“Leave your first and last name, your phone number, number of kids and number of adults in the household,” Evans said, adding that they will contact those on the waiting list during the first week of December.