Angel Tree programs make adjustments, continue helping local children in need
By Haley Schichtl
People who would like to give Christmas gifts to kids in need can do so with the help of the Angel Tree program.
Eureka Springs High School counselor Rachal Hyatt said the Angel Tree program at Eureka Springs schools is slightly different this year because of COVID-19 precautions.
“Usually we use the three banks — Cornerstone, Equity, Arvest — and Bunch’s, to put tags out at, but the lobbies aren’t open at Arvest and Cornerstone,” Hyatt said. “We’re still using Equity and Bunch’s, and we’re using a virtual Angel Tree this year for the other tags.”
She said participants can click a link on the school’s website or Hyatt’s Facebook page, which will direct them to a Google form.
“You can click on the one you want, and it sends you an email receipt, so when you go shopping you can just have it in your email,” Hyatt said.
Students in the Eureka Springs School District who qualify for free or reduced lunch are given forms to fill out if they would like to receive a gift, or mailed one if they are doing virtual school.
Unwrapped gifts can be brought to the high school by Friday, Dec. 4. Donors must be wearing masks and will have their temperatures checked at the door.
“If anybody wants us to meet them at their car or outside the doorway, we’re happy to do that,” Hyatt said.
The high school’s National Honor Society (NHS) students will then wrap the gifts as usual.
Senior NHS member Mia Evans said she loves helping out with Angel Tree every year.
“I like that it’s giving me a chance to help people in the community,” Evans said. “Not everyone is as fortunate as everyone else. It’s good to give to the families and kids who don’t normally get something to celebrate.”
She said gifts that are given through the Angel Tree range from clothes to toys, and one year a child even got a bike.
Evans said it normally takes the NHS students quite a while to get through wrapping everything.
“We get started as soon as we can, and it’s usually up to the wire,” she said. “So many people are that generous around the holidays.”
She said they have not started wrapping yet, but they have already gotten a few gifts in.
“I think it’s a really great program,” Evans said. “I’m really glad I’ve been able to participate every year and help people out.”
The Berryville Community Center also will have an Angel Tree starting next week for students in the Berryville School District.
Programs director Renee Allison said the Berryville school counselors are giving out forms to students and will get them back by Friday, Nov. 13.
“We’re hoping to get the tree up next week and for it to be available in our lobby,” Allison said. “People can also call in and request a certain age and gender instead of having to come in and get an angel from the tree themselves if they’re worried about contact.”
She said that families who are on the receiving end of the Angel Tree have to take a year off if they participated two years in a row so the program can help as many people as possible.
“We haven’t ever had an angel not be adopted. Our community and our staff makes sure they’re taken care of,” Allison said.
People will bring unwrapped gifts to the community center as usual, but this year, instead of having a group of volunteers wrap them, the gifts will be picked up along with wrapping paper for the parent to wrap them to reduce the number of people in contact with the items.
Allison said parents will be able to come pick up the presents from the center on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 21-22.
“We’re always very grateful for the community’s support,” Allison said. “We’re trying to maintain some social distancing and structure.”
Anyone with questions can call the community center at 870-423-3139.