A Time for Giving

The Salvation Army hits the streets again this holiday season, collecting donations, toys and clothing to bring Christmas to all of Hawai‘i’s children.

Traditional signs of Christmas are a bit more subtle here in the Islands. We lack the natural reminders such as blankets of snow, frosted windows and teeth-chattering weather. Fruitcakes are, for the most part, skipped as a Christmas treat in favor of kaki mochi. But once you see the red kettle and hear the ringing bell outside your neighborhood grocery store, it hits you—the holidays are upon us.

Lana Carter with her daughters (from left) Kiana, Chasity, Precious and Eternity at the windward Salvation Army. photo: Karin Kovalsky

“It’s a good time to help people out,” says Capt. Marcey Angeles, of the Salvation Army Windward Corps. In addition to the familiar red donation kettles, the Salvation Army also sets up Christmas “angel” trees across the state, where the community can donate toys and clothing for children who otherwise may not have gifts under their trees. As the current head of the Windward angel tree program and a former recipient of angel tree gifts, Angeles has a vested interest in the success of the program. During her childhood, Angeles’ single mother struggled financially during the holidays. “The angel tree changed my mom’s outlook on Christmas and it changed my life tremendously.”

“Every child deserves to have a Christmas,” says Lana Carter, a single mother of four. For the past five years, Carter’s children have been recipients of the angel tree gifts. “It’s such a blessing. I’m able to put something under our tree and watch the girls get excited. At Christmas time, you just want the best for your children,” she says. The board games her daughters receive through the program give the Carters something to do together as a family.

“It doesn’t take a lot for a family to need assistance during the holidays,” Angeles says. Whether a parent recently lost a job, or food and rent prove to be too much to handle, the Salvation Army welcomes families to register for donated gifts. “Some families come in with one kid, others have eight or nine,” Angeles says. Whatever the case, no one is turned away. Clothing and shoe sizes are recorded for each child, as well as a wish list of toys, books and games.

Paper angels, representing each child, will hang on Christmas trees throughout December in shopping centers across the state, waiting to be adopted by donors. All donations are collected and the gifts distributed to families just before Christmas, along with donated gift certificates for holiday meals from Foodland.

For more than 20 years, the heavy holiday foot traffic at shopping centers has provided an ideal environment for the trees, which collected gifts for more than 5,000 children last year. But this year, the project is branching out in hopes of reaching further into the community. “Denny’s agreed to open its doors to us,” Angeles says. Diners will have the same opportunity to adopt angels at various restaurant locations. Additionally, KGMB9 news will broadcast the progress of the program, informing viewers of the number of remaining angels.

“It’s really nice that the community is taking notice,” Angeles says, though she is hoping for a stronger turnout this year. Last Christmas, 2,000 angels were either not adopted or not brought back. In these instances, the Salvation Army shopped for gifts using donations collected from the kettles, ensuring that all applicants received a Christmas present. Angeles hopes that this year’s KGMB coverage and additional Denny’s locations will help to get every angel adopted.

“I want the community to know that this service changes lives,” she says. “It’s a great way to feel the holiday spirit.”

Here are 3 ways to help:

1 Adopt an angel and shop for a gift donation or submit a monetary donation at one of the angel tree locations:

• O‘ahu — Kahala Mall, Windward Mall, Pearlridge Shopping Center.
• Contact Daniel de Castro, Salvation Army’s director of Public Relations at 988-2136 for Neighbor Island locations.
• Various Denny’s Restaurants

2 Drop a check into a Salvation Army red kettle with the words “angel tree” written in the memo space. Salvation Army employees will shop for a gift with your donation.

3 Donate your time and volunteer to accept donations at the various angel tree locations.

For more information on charities in Hawai‘i, contact the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, a statewide grant-making organization supported by generous individuals, families and businesses to benefit Hawai‘i’s people. Visit its site at www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org.