Angel Trees available to help families in need

Groups throughout McHenry County are hoping the ornaments hanging on their trees are gone by Christmas.

Like the Salvation Army and other churches and organizations, Light of Christ Lutheran Church in Algonquin has filled an Angel Tree with tags representing families in need in the hopes that parishioners will help.

Each of the church’s 320 tags represent a request for a gift, such as toys, clothing and gift cards for food, gas and essentials, said Eleanor Ault, a church volunteer. The church identifies families in need with the help of area schools, Turning Point domestic violence agencies and the Department of Children and Family Services.

“These are families in the area that could use special help at Christmastime,” Ault said.

The families are kept confidential, and the gifts returned unwrapped, Ault said. Once sorted and wrapped, they’re distributed to those in need.

It’s a similar process at the Salvation Army of McHenry County, which places Angel Trees at roughly 30 businesses throughout the county in hopes of helping more than 500 families. The Salvation Army works with area churches and organizations so donations aren’t duplicated for the same families, said Linda Hunter, community relations and media representative.

Organizations, such as the Jaycess and the Rotary Club, also host Angel Trees in an effort to help families in need.

“McHenry County is an incredible community,” Hunter said. “There are so many individuals and organizations that want to give pack. We try to partner because together we can help so many more people.”

Each tree contains “children’s wishes,” and those who take the tags are asked to purchase the “wishes” and return them unwrapped either to the business where the Angel Tree was located or the Salvation Army’s Crystal Lake office, 290 W. Crystal Lake Ave.

They then go to the Salvation Army’s Toyland Toy Shop, where families can sort through and pick gifts to be wrapped for their children, Hunter said.

This ensures donations are distributed evenly and parents can help individualize gifts for children, she said.

“There’s magic in Christmas,” she said. “The magic of Christmas is truly Santa know what your heart’s desire is ... We really are trying to keep the families engaged.”

The organization also accepts donations of hats, mittens, gift cards for families to purchase holiday meals and “truly anything that could be used for a child,” Hunter said. All donations and money raised remain in McHenry County.

The Salvation Army distributes the items the week of Dec. 16, but will accept donations through Christmas and beyond.

“We in the past have gotten phone calls on Christmas Even and been able to help families,” Unter said. “We don’t turn anyone away.”