Doing The Most Good

Major Ann Penhale.

Major Ann Penhale.

Every year Louisvillians donate their time and money to the Salvation Army. One of the Army’s favorite initiatives is the Angel Tree, a chance for families to donate gifts and food to children and families less fortunate than themselves. The Voice-Tribune sat down with Major Ann Penhale, associate area commander for Louisville to hear about how this year’s preparations are going.

The Voice-Tribune: What is the Angel Tree?
Major Ann Penhale: Angel Tree is a program where The Salvation Army gives toys and new clothing to children whose parents have come to us asking for help during Christmas. So we put the angels out at different locations and we give them out to corporations or clubs and church groups. Each one of those fills the angel’s bag and bring them back to us. We supplement it if there is not enough there. For example some people may have only bought toys, or only clothes and we then go out and get them prepared – all 10,018 bags in a very short amount of time.

V-T: Have you always been able to take care of all the children on the list?
Penhale: Yes, we’ve always been able to do that. Next Tuesday we’ll do the Angel-athon on WAVE3, and the funds that come from that help us to purchase the items that we supplement the bags with. Right now we have close to 5,000 of the 10,000 bags that have been adopted at the mall, and various other locations. They have been in the malls for a week and we’re hoping that next week they will be filled up as well. That would be a lovely, lovely thing.

V-T: The fact that you’re able to find so many and able to match so many children each year with a donor, what do you think has been the key to that success?
Penhale: All of that has been because the community gives. Whether it’s from the Angel Tree or supplemented through Toys for Tots, who are a wonderful organization we partner with. But people really do get excited about getting their angels and it has become a real tradition. A lot of families have made it a tradition to adopt an angel. But then of course Kroger does the food angels for us, and anyone can go into Kroger and buy a food angel for $25. And for that amount of money Kroger gives every bit of that to the Salvation Army. So when people come to pick up their gift bags they also get a Kroger gift card to spend on their family. And depending on the size of their family it affects how many cards they are given. That donation also feeds people every day here at The Salvation Army all year long.

V-T: So can people still sign up to take part in the Angel Tree? And if so where can they also make donations?
Penhale: Oh yes, of course. We are in the Oxmoor Mall in St. Matthews as well as Jefferson Mall, through Dec 7. We are also in four area Walmarts. After Dec. 7 we are in the Walmarts for one more week and the Oxmoor Mall for one more week. So really people have until Dec. 14 to take part. Getting to us earlier is better. The Walmart locations are Bashford Manor, Middletown, Fern Creek and New Cut Rd.

V-T: It must be heartwarming knowing that so many people want to take part each year, correct?
Penhale: Oh yes, of course. And one of our greatest needs right now is for people who want to come in and volunteer and help us to process these 10,000 bags. That way when the families come and collect their bags, it’s a smooth process and their stuff is ready for them.

V-T: And if someone wanted to volunteer, how could they do that?
Penhale: People can visit our website and click on the volunteer tab, or they can simply show up between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the Brook Street location and we’ll put them to work!

For more information about donating or volunteering, visit www.louisvillesa.volunteerfirst.org or stop by the Salvation Army location at 911 S. Brook St.