The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 4, 2012

Salvation Army program to help 'spruce up' lives

By James Neal, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Salvation Army of Enid has begun its annual Spruce Up a Life program, offering members of the community the chance to brighten Christmas for local families in need.

Spruce Up a Life donors purchase a Salvation Army Christmas tree, decorate it and provide gifts and food for the associated family.

The Salvation Army has set up 54 trees south of the Oakwood Mall food court, with each tree representing a family waiting to be adopted by a local donor.

Each tree costs $65, plus the costs of decorating it and providing gifts for the children and Christmas dinner. Many donors also choose to purchase a gift for the parents. The Salvation Army provides the ages and sizes of children in each family.

A ribbon-cutting for the Spruce Up a Life program will be at 7 p.m. tonight at Oakwood Mall. Donors are invited to attend and decorate their Christmas tree.

Christmas trees will remain on display at Oakwood Mall until Dec. 8, when they will be delivered to the families. Gifts need to be returned by Dec. 3 so they can be delivered with the trees.

In addition to the Spruce Up a Life trees, the Salvation Army also hosts an Angel Tree, decorated with paper angels representing children in need.

Each angel includes the gender, age and size of the child. Donors purchase gifts for the child and return the gifts to be delivered to the family.

Salvation Army facility director Charlotte Gragret said 178 families already have submitted the names of children for the Angel Tree.

Major John Dancer said more families are expected to ask for help, and the level of need is up this year. He said the Salvation Army will open its Christmas programs for late enrollment after Thanksgiving.

“We’re going to be doing more this year, because I think the need is higher,” Dancer said. “The cost of everything is rising, and we still have people calling for help. We see a ton of people coming in looking for help with food, looking for shelter ... the need is definitely there.”

Dancer said the Spruce Up a Life and Angel Tree programs not only help families in need celebrate Christmas, they also help those families meet their basic needs.

“It’s about the children, it’s about having something special for the children on Christmas that these families might not otherwise be able to provide,” Dancer said. “The hope also is that what we might help them be able to provide other necessities, so they can pay the light bill, pay their rent, because they’re not having to pay for presents and Christmas dinner.”

Dancer said the Christmas programs give the public a chance to “be a shield,” referring to the Salvation Army’s red shield emblem.

“We’re about being a shield for the community, and we’re asking people to be a shield with us,” Dancer said. “When people get involved, when they shop or donate at the thrift store, when they donate at the red kettles, when they buy a tree or adopt and angel, they’re helping us be a better shield in the community, they’re standing there shoulder-to-shoulder with us.”

For more information on the Spruce Up a Life and Angel Tree programs, call Salvation Army at (580) 237-1910.