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COVID-19 causes changes to Salvation Army Christmas Angel Tree event



ABILENE, TX – The Abilene Salvation Army normally hosts an annual Christmas Angel Tree event where those in need can get toys for their children and boxes of food. Like almost everything else this year, the event looked a little different.

“Those of us that could not provide, you know we’re struggling,” said Candice Smith, Abilene mom in need.

The year has been tough for everyone, and Marlie McCain sees that at a young age.

“People don’t have food and toys that they need,” McCain says.

To be extra COVID cautious this Christmas, the Abilene Salvation Army is doing a drive-thru version of their annual Christmas Angel Tree event in which volunteers will put the groceries and toys in for you so you don’t even have to get out.

Two moms in Abilene say they weren’t even sure if they would be able to do Christmas this year.

“I just became a single mom, I have five kids, I escaped domestic abuse, and sometimes you just don’t have the money. I am working two jobs right now,” said Mary McDowell.

“I had a daughter that was in the NICU for a very long time, almost 5 months, so with her I was unable to work,” said Smith.

Mary says that this year has been just as tough on her kids.

“I know that since everything happened at our house, it’s been kind of solemn, and I have been gone a whole bunch, and so this might help them find some joy and happiness,” said McDowell.

Candice says she is thankful to have a supportive community.

“It lets you know that no matter what’s going on, circumstances, that, you know, at least the community is coming together,” said Smith.

Which is why Abilene Salvation Army captain Rachel McCain wants to teach her kids from a young age what it means to serve others.

“When they first see the toys set up, they do ask, ‘Oh can I have this?’ and I am able to share with them that this is us helping other people that don’t have things this year or aren’t as fortunate,” said Rachel.

Her daughter Landen McCain doesn’t seem to mind.

“Because some people don’t have houses and some people don’t have toys to play with and so that’s why I like helping,” said Landen.

Thanks to help from generous donors, Marlie, Landen, and Tucker got a front-row seat in what it means to give this Christmas.