The Students and Staff of Stevens High School in Rapid City collected over 215 gifts for Angel Tree this year! What an asset these students are to Rapid City and the Black Hills community at large. #goraiders #generouskids #teensdoinggood
Within familiar circles, Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary President Leah Zandstra is known as a “professional volunteer.” “When there is something to be done, I jump on it instead of waiting around.”
Social activism is in her roots, and something she is passionate about sharing with her children. “My parents have always been involved in the Salvation Army. Ever since we were young we were required to volunteer outside of school or church – it was something we did as a family. My kids love to volunteer, and I’m so thankful this has been instilled in them.” Leah’s joyful generosity is contagious.
This busy mom of two makes it a priority to give back. “The world we live in is not how it should be. The only way we’ll ever be able to change that is by starting our kids early at things like this. [It’s about] basic human kindness, and it starts with the simplest things: offering your change when somebody needs it, or offering a gift at Christmas time. Kids need to learn this at a young age so it follows them their whole lives.”
Angel Tree has been a Salvation Army cornerstone since 1979. The program provides an opportunity for local individuals, families and businesses to give to Black Hills families in need, leaving a lasting positive impact on everyone involved.
Families with children ages newborn to 13 register to participate in the program in October and November through the Salvation Army. Angel Trees are hosted at Black Hills businesses in Rapid City and Spearfish including Rushmore Mall and both Rapid City Walmart stores. Angel Tree tags feature an age range and suggested items for a boy or girl. The giver simply chooses one or more tags, purchases gifts to match and drops unwrapped items off at any Salvation Army location.
Angel Tree recipients choose gifts from the Christmas Toy Shop for their children themselves – an aspect of the program that empowers parents and guardians. Most children receive at least two gifts, while older kids may receive a single, higher value gift. Families also receive a game, wrapping paper and small stocking stuffers.
Angel Tree tags may be picked up beginning on November 16; when you see red kettles and bell ringers around town, that means Angel Trees are up, too. Monetary donations, wrapping paper and stocking stuffer trinkets are welcome.
Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary President Leah Zandstra is thrilled to see so many Black Hills families blessed every year through the Angel Tree program. “The Salvation Army always finds a way to meet a need – there are always ways to volunteer with them.”