GALLERY — Salvation Army, volunteers deliver Christmas for 500 local children

Published 12:28 am Saturday, December 17, 2022

Captain Jan Zuniga of the Salvation Army had nothing but gratitude for those who gathered to volunteer their time to support children in Orange County this holiday season.

“Making Christmas happen for 500 kids does not happen without the community, and so for me this is Christmas morning,” she said. “I think there’s about 30 volunteers here on this morning to help make sure this process is moving. This is Christmas to me; that’s what this is.”

The process described by Zuniga was the service project that occurred on the morning of Dec. 10 at the Salvation Army building on 1950 MLK in Orange.

Thirty volunteers met at 8 a.m. in advance of Wednesday’s Angel Tree distribution to organize the gymnasium full of gifts for more than 200 families and 500 children in Orange County.

As Christmas music played, the Salvation Army “army behind the Army” organized, sorted and prepared Christmas gifts to ensure a streamlined distribution for families on Wednesday.

The Angel Tree program provides Christmas gifts for children in Orange County ages 12 and under.

According to Zuniga, the annual program hosted by the Orange Corps is made possible by local community members and partners in government, industry, and church congregations.

In Orange County, a few communities partner were International Paper, First United Methodist Church and Lamar State College Orange, who committed to 175 and 40 angel tree tags respectively.

Brad Childs, Orange City council member of District 2, is another community partner. His business, Childs Building Supply-Ace Hardware, donated the bags used to package Angel Tree gifts.

The Salvation Army is a United Way of Orange County partner agency. They receive funds, guidance, support and resources from UWOC.

During their August campaign kickoff breakfast, UWOC president and CEO Maureen McAllister described partner agencies.

“These partner agencies are the boots on the ground every single day out there doing the work to help make an impact in people’s lives,” McAllister said.

And on Saturday morning, McAllister, along with UWOC volunteers, were those boots on the ground, working diligently.

International Paper, the largest pulp and paper company in the world, was also on hand to volunteer. Representatives from their Orange location, the Orange Containerboard Mill, were well represented among the volunteers.

Other volunteers included students from Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School, missionaries serving Orange County, county employees and several families who brought their children to help.

The Angel Tree works to ensure that every child registered receives at least one new toy for Christmas.

In addition to toys, the program also provides bedding, coats, apparel, diapers, and more to ensure the human needs of children in Orange County are met.

Additionally, the red kettle campaign continues virtually and in person in support of their goal to raise $65,000 over a span of 11 locations. Red Kettle campaign funds add to the operating budget for the upcoming year and assist with seasoning programming.

The Salvation Army Angel Tree is an annual Christmas Program organized by the Orange Corps.

The Salvation Army Orange Corps may be reached by calling 409-291-8400.

— Written by Shari Hardin