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Angel Tree program is helping more than 550 kids this year

Photo by Michele Newbanks Gregg Mitchell of the Sgt. Bob O’Malley Det. 1436 Marine Corps League looks for a winter coat for his Angel Tree child Tuesday morning at Walmart.

Two holiday fixtures at businesses around Marietta are out in full force for the Salvation Army.

The organization’s Angel Tree program is helping more than 550 kids have clothing and toys this Christmas.

“That number could climb still because we’re still getting calls,” said Lt. Megan Moretz of the Salvation Army in Marietta. “And people sometimes bring toys by with no names attached.”

She said the Marietta Community Foundation has been a big help by starting a Washington County Angel Tree Fund, which will be used to buy gifts for kids whose tags aren’t adopted.

This was the second year for members of the Sgt. Bob O’Malley Det. 1436 Marine Corps League to help purchase gifts. Some 15 members of the organization gathered at Walmart on Tuesday morning to shop for 16 kids.

Marine Corps League member Gregg Mitchell said he was trying to stretch his money as far as he could to purchase as many gifts as he could for his Angel Tree child.

Roy Trembly, past commandant, said they were originally going to participate in the Toys for Tots program, but decided to help with the Angel Tree instead.

“We know we’re helping children in Washington County and that’s a lot better. We know exactly where we spent our funds,” he explained.

He said this won’t be the last year they help with the Angel Tree program.

“As long as we can fundraise, we will participate,” Trembly said. “This year, we had no fundraisers at all, but we had some money left from last year, which helped out.”

The deadline to return gifts to the Salvation Army is Dec. 11.

Moretz said the most popular toys for boys have been Minecraft, Fortnite, Lego sets, Nerf guns and Pokemon. For girls, Barbie, board games and LOL dolls have been highly requested.

“We go up to age 16 with Angel Tree,” she explained. “For teens, there have been a lot of spa supplies and nail and manicure sets.”

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Along with the Angel Tree program, shoppers have seen the familiar red kettle bells in front of local stores. The first kettle was placed at Walmart on Nov. 21 and most of the others were set out the day after Thanksgiving.

Moretz said the kettles are going well. As of Thursday night, about $8,100 has been raised, which is less than in previous years.

“But it was expected,” she added.

Kettles and ringers can be found at Walmart, Big Lots, Warrens IGA, and the Kroger in Belpre and Marietta.

She noted smaller countertop kettles that collect change have been put at American Flags and Poles, Arby’s, Jeremiah’s Coffee Shop, IHOP and Weber’s Market.

“The money stays local and does a lot of good,” Moretz noted.

The kettles will be out every day except Sunday until Christmas eve.

“If people want to volunteer, we have a new website where they can sign up,” she said. “If people are healthy and comfortable with leaving their home and want to help, they can go to salarmy.us/marietta to volunteer.”

The goal this year is $55,525 to continue providing services in Washington County.

“Like our food pantry, free clothing closet, utility shut off prevention and the winter hotel program,” Moretz replied. “It’s only possible because of the holiday fundraisers.”

They are also looking for local businesses or organizations to sponsor a kettle. The company name and logo will be put on the kettle. Moretz said prices to sponsor a kettle start at $250 per day and up to $2,000 for two weeks.

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

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