HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – The Salvation Army Angel Tree program has been helping families in need during the holidays for about 40 years, and on Saturday families in the Cabell County received some holiday joy.
Santa Claus and his elves were dressed as Salvation Army officers and local volunteers, as they delivered gifts to 576 Cabell County families in a parking lot outside of Big Lots in Huntington.
Huntington Salvation Army Officer, Lt. Liz Blusiewicz said she was worried as of late last night that they wouldn’t be able to fulfill all the Angel Tree requests.
“I sat down and literally prayed. I said,’God can you please send some toys’. Sure enough this sweet man, he was a doctor, and he and his wife came in and their car was filled to the brim, and they said, ‘are we too late’ and we were like you are right on time,” said Blusiewicz.
She said the Cabell County community went “above and beyond” and provided gifts and toys for more than 300 of the Angel Tree families. Blusiewicz said the Salvation Army adopted the remaining families so everyone was provided for.
“We never want a family to choose between paying rent and taking care of the electric bill and buying gifts for their kids, so the Salvation Army can step up and fill that gap,” said Blusiewicz.
During the event on Saturday, the Angel Tree families didn’t just receive gifts and toys for their kids. They also received food so they could celebrate Christmas on a full stomach.
Blusiewicz said every family received a food box filled with ham, bread rolls, mashed potatoes, green beans and corn, and yams.
“Everything is there so they can have a full dinner with the family,” said Blusiewicz.
Makayla Waugh, who volunteered on Saturday to help the Salvation Army hand out gifts and meals to the families said, “They come for the gifts and we are like here is your food box and a lot of people don’t realize they are getting that and that makes their day”.
Waugh and her family have been volunteering for more than ten years for the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program, and her father Chris Wilson, who is a deputy chief with the Huntington Fire Department, said for him its an opportunity to give back.
“There was a fire in the City of Huntington in 2007 [Emmons Apartment fire] and nine people died. The Salvation Army fed the fire department and gave us drinks. They were with us all night long,” said Wilson.
He also said it feels good to help families in need during the holidays, and it’s also a good learning experience for his kids.
“We have a lot in our life to be thankful for, and we don’t have it nearly as bad as the people we serve here. I just want to open their eyes to that, “ said Wilson.
The Huntington Salvation Army helped more than 800 families in four counties (Mason, Lincoln, Wayne and Cabell) this holiday, and they are thankful to everyone in the community who made a donation to the Angel Tree program, so no family was forgotten about this Christmas.
Families in Mason, Lincoln, Wayne received their gifts and meals earlier in the week.