Salvation Army Sets Up ‘Giving Tree’ at Ohio Valley Mall

Photo by Miranda Sebroski The Salvation Army is helping families out for Christmas with a “giving tree.” Volunteers will be standing outside of store fronts at the Ohio Valley Mall to collect money for the holidays as well as funds for emergencies year-round. Homer Greathouse, who said he has been a volunteer with the organization for 40 years, stands outside the mall to collect donations.

The Salvation Army is hoping others will help make Christmas a little brighter for those less fortunate in the Ohio Valley.

The organization has created a “giving tree” near Piercing Pagoda and Bath & Body Works in the Ohio Valley Mall. Donors can select a name off a tree and sponsor a child who is in need of a gift for Christmas. Those buying gifts can take the presents to the Salvation Army gift wrapping location in the mall, where volunteers will even wrap them for a donation.

Maj. Louis Patrick, Bellaire Salvation Army corps officer, said the group is helping families until Christmas Eve and will take any help that it can. He said there are 1,300 children to sponsor right now, but by Christmas Eve there could be up to 2,000.

“Some people get late on stuff and start thinking about these kinds of things the week of Christmas,” he said. “It is the sooner the better to get this stuff going.

“Every name on that tree is a real name,” Patrick said. “It is a real child in our area. If you see a name on the tree and it has a number on it like two, three or four, that is the number of children in that family. Let’s say we do end up getting 2,000 children to sponsor. That is a lot of money that people in our area are spending to help out and that’s just so great.”

Patrick said the Salvation Army also is giving gift cards to families in order to buy food.

“What we have done in the past is we have bought food, but there’s a couple problems with that,” he said. “There’s always the craziness with packing and all of that, so we did decide to do gift cards. Some people get food stamps and what they can’t buy with the food stamps, they can get it with the gift card. When they need help with something, they can use that gift card.”

Even though the Salvation Army is an organization based on the Christian faith, Patrick said people of any faith can receive help during the holiday season.

“We don’t discriminate,” he said. “Even though we say Christmas, we don’t discriminate people who have other faiths. Whether someone celebrates Kwanzaa or Hanukkah, we are going to help them out with the same process.”

Patrick said the organization is striving to give kids a joyful and memorable Christmas.

“Do you remember waking up on Christmas morning and finding all of those presents under the tree? Well, a donor becomes that person,” he said. “They become Santa Claus for these children. They buy that gift for a child that they wanted so bad and the child will see it there Christmas morning. You become a sparkle in their life. You help make that Christmas wish real for the child.”

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