GOODLETTESVILLE, Tenn.- It's a clear cut sign of the times: the number of
children's names hanging on Salvation Army Angel Trees all across Nashville.
They have a record 17,000 children to sponsor for Christmas this year, a task
that can only be met if the community steps up to meet the overwhelming demand.
Officials said they saw a small boost in sponsorship over the weekend, but
it's still only 20 percent of the total number in need. They are hoping that
people will stop when they see the trees at Rivergate, Green Hills and Cool
Springs malls, and remember that not every child will have a Christmas this
"A lot of times, people get caught up in themselves, and there are so
many other people that need so much," said volunteer Denine Puch.
Puch and her daughter Faith are helping match names with holiday shoppers
ready to spend and give. They said it's a reminder that for many families this
season things aren't getting better, but worse.
"Angel Tree is a prime time indicator of a problem of our economy
because with 17,000 angels, 3,000 more than ever in history for one community
is just incredible," said Mike Servais with the Salvation Army.
The Puch's were relieved when Bridgette Biggs and her son stopped to sponsor a
5-year-old boy. It's a guarantee there will be presents in a home that would
otherwise have none this Christmas.
"It gets tight. So why not when you have the extra money just go ahead
and do it because you don't have to spend a lot to make a 5-year-old
happy," said Biggs. The average cost to sponsor a child is between $30 and
$50. They have mandatory needs like clothes, even diapers and then one 'want'
like a toy or scooter.
"It makes them realize that people care, and that they are not alone
which is a good thing," said Faith Puch.
While they are both happy to know the 5-year-old will be taken care of, they
are aware that nearly 13,000 names still need to be chosen.
"It's kind of a mixed emotion because you see so many in need, and we
all need to join together because there are so many less fortunate," said
And there are only two weeks left to meet the overwhelming demand, to
fill the organization's still empty warehouse with 96,000 toys. It's no
doubt a task, but one the Salvation Army says this city can complete.
"The great news is that this community will respond. Nashville is
awesome in its heart," said Servais.
The Angel Tree deadline is December third. After the third, there will be
generic donation drop offs at all Daily's convenience stores in the Nashville