By Chris Wright, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- The economic downturn has more people turning to local charities for help this holiday season. In an effort to provide a merry Christmas for children in need, the Salvation Army kicked off its annual Angel Tree campaign on Sunday.
The Salvation Army says requests for Angel Tree assistance are up 10%, and while the charity understands that times are tough, it is urging people to give what they can.
The opening ceremony for the Angel Tree at Woodland Hills Mall resembled those of holiday seasons past. The Salvation Army brass ensemble played, with the children's choir accompanying. But, Brad Borror says this year is different.
"We've got nearly 16,000 kids who have signed up through their parents to be on our Angel Tree. So, the need is tremendous this year," said Brad Borror with the Salvation Army.
Borror says that is about a 10% increase over 2007, and the Salvation Army is running into a lot of new faces.
"Of those, about 50% are people seeking Christmas assistance for the first time ever. They're not return clients. They're coming here for the first time," said Brad Borror with the Salvation Army.
As a result, the organization hopes more donors will step up to meet that need.
The system is pretty simple. Interested shoppers sign up and select an angel. They are given the child's wish list. They buy what they can and return the items to the Salvation Army.
Donors say it's a rewarding experience.
"There's a need for a lot of kids, older people, to get gifts that can't afford them, so it's nice to come out and help out," said Angel Tree donor Scott Vance.
Given the tough times some families are experiencing, some say it's particularly gratifying this year.
"When we have an opportunity, and we're not having the same type of struggles that some other people are, then there's no reason why people shouldn't help out," said Angel Tree donor Johnny Lee.
The Angel Tree is located near Sears on the ground floor of the Woodland Hills Mall.