Treasures spreads Christmas cheer
Those behind the Treasures for Children program have one goal in mind: to make sure all children in Indiana County have presents at Christmastime.
Administered by The Salvation Army in conjunction with The Indiana Gazette, the holiday tradition provides for families in need through the generosity of those who donate gifts for children whose families face financial hardship.
[PHOTO: Helping to promote The Salvation Army’s Treasures for Children program, which kicks off this week, were, from left, angels Katie Ooten, Emily Layton and Sophia Hamryszak; Laila Foster and Johnny Brand as Mary and Joseph; shepherds Emma and Isabella Hamryszak; and kings Cameron, Charlie and Kaleb Hamryszak. (Jamie Empfield/Gazette photo)]
Individuals ready to get into the giving holiday spirit can begin taking part in the program this week. Wish list tags are going out and Treasures for Children Christmas trees are going up at more than 40 participating locations.
Individuals can select a child’s wish list from a Christmas tree, buy gifts for that child and drop them off, unwrapped, at any tree location or The Salvation Army headquarters on Water Street.
Donors are welcome to include wrapping material.
The collection period lasts through Dec. 9.
Organizers want to make sure those giving gifts know the wish lists can be used as a guide to what to purchase.
“Those aren’t necessarily what they have to buy, but something to go by (to know) what a child’s interests are,” said Ruth Ann Foster of The Salvation Army, who coordinates the efforts.
“We’re not asking them to buy everything on that list; we’re just giving them options.”
Those options can range from toys for youngsters to video games for high school-age kids.
The Salvation Army’s Adopt-a-Family program is beginning now, as well. With that program, groups of donors —such as employees at a business or members of a church — work together to buy gifts for an entire family.
Nine hundred tags went out to trees last week, according to Foster.
Sign-ups for children in need will continue, taking place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 18 and 21 and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 20 at The Salvation Army. After those dates, sign-ups are by appointment.
Last year, a total of 1,789 tags went out, including those for children in need, senior citizens and those served by social service agencies, she said. This year, donations will be accepted for seniors as well. Gifts will also be distributed to agencies. The Gazette sponsors all of the program’s administrative costs.
As in years past, the response in 2012 was a strong one. Foster attributes that to the generosity of those in the area.
“I think that Indiana is a very giving community,” she said.
Capt. Erin Brand of The Salvation Army agrees. She’s grateful for the support of those in the county who step up to help make the program happen, whether by letting their site be a tree location, donating gifts or volunteering their time.
“I think it’s a blessing on both ends,” she said. “God blesses the giver, and God blesses the receiver.”
For well over a century,The Salvation Army has been providing Christmas gifts to children, according to Brand.
“That’s just part of our tradition and something we’ve been doing for years upon years,” she said.
The benefit of such holiday generosity is something Brand knows firsthand, having grown up with a single mom who had to struggle financially at times.
“I don’t know if I’d be where I am today if there weren’t people who would come along and give my mom the help that we needed,” she said.
Programs like Treasures for Children give kids in need something more than what they’ll find under the Christmas tree. They make children feel wanted and accepted, Brand said.
And those are gifts that may keep on giving through those kids for years to come.
“They might grow up and give back,” she said.
For those who wish to participate in Treasures for Children but don’t have the time to shop, The Salvation Army will accept monetary donations. Checks can be made out to The Salvation Army Treasures for Children and sent to 635 Water St., Indiana, PA 15701.
Families who need assistance this holiday season and want to benefit from the program should call The Salvation Army at (724) 465-2530 as soon as possible.