Thousands of Mississippi families will need a helping hand to put toys under the tree this Christmas. MPB's Ashley Norwood reports on how the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program is there to help.
Almost 40 percent of children in Mississippi are living with parents who lack secure employment, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation. For those families living in poverty, providing Christmas gifts for their children can be difficult.
In Jackson, the Salvation Army is opening a new Angel Tree Toy Shop to make gift giving a little easier. Michelle Hartfield is pointing to more than 2500 boxes waiting to be filled with donated toys and clothing for families in need.
Major Robert Lyle says children will also receive a week's worth of food and snacks.
"Need knows no season and the Salvation Army just wants to be able to be a helping factor in this community. This is a great community with all the struggles that goes on, the crime, this is a place of hope. Maybe just for that little bit of time Mom and Dad's able to provide a little bit more for their children because of the Salvation Army," said Lyle.
Lyle says all Salvation Army cities located across the state are participating. Corporations or volunteers who adopt an angel are given a list of suggested items for children per household. All donations are due December 8th.
Susan Gilbert is coordinating the Angel Tree program in Tupelo. She says it varies by location, but families often have to complete a two-hour budget class to qualify.
"We want it to be a hand-up and not a hand-out. Instead of every year depending on the Salvation Army or the community for Christmas if we could teach them how to budget their money they might not need assistance after a little while," said Gilbert.
At least thirty percent of children in Mississippi are living in poverty- that's almost double the national average, according to a report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Ashley Norwood, MPB News.