Louisville Angel Tree

Louisville mom thankful for Christmas assistance program

Nashika is a single mother in Louisville, who lives with her four daughters in The Salvation Army shelter until they find permanent housing. Among her children are 9-year-old Wilaysha and 12-year-old India, who are participating in the Angel Tree program this year.

Angel Tree is for children ages newborn to 12 and, in many locations, also seniors. With it, people adopt an angel (or more than one) from a tree at various retail locations and restaurants. The tag they are given lists the recipient’s age, gender, clothing sizes and gift wishes

The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program helps more than a million U.S. children each Christmas.

The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program helps more than a million U.S. children each Christmas.

Nashika’s family, which includes 15-year-old Danielle and 13-year-old Taliyah, has taken part in Angel Tree several times over the years. She said, though, that when the family is doing OK, she leaves the spaces for others who need them.

This year, unfortunately, isn’t one of those years, so she is grateful to have Angel Tree fulfill her younger daughters’ gifts, letting her spend her money on her older daughters. Also, Nashika, who has another child due this spring, said some of the gifts the younger girls will likely get will be things the whole family can enjoy.

“Games, of course, they’re going to love because we’re so close and we do a lot of things together, so that’s always a plus. And, oh my, the books! Because it’s so different from the way they would pick books, when they start reading them, they just get indulged. So they love the books and ask for them every year we sign up.”

Puzzles are also something all the girls enjoy. They’re especially good for Wilaysha, Nashika said, because she’s very active and has trouble focusing, so working them helps her with that.

In addition to games, books and puzzles, Wilaysha also loves movies while India likes to draw and create complex art projects (as does Taliyah). They and their older sisters also love dancing and music, as well as fashion accessories like purses, stud earrings, colorful bracelets, flower headbands and clear lip gloss.

Nashika said of her daughters and their interests, “I try to keep them simple, so they’ll be able to have more based on what they want.”

The one thing they’ve all asked for in the past and haven’t received is a bike. “That’s what they’ve wanted the most.”

Part of the problem is bikes are expensive, so The Salvation Army doesn’t get nearly as many donated as kids want. Then, with her family, Nashika said they all want one, which neither she nor The Salvation Army can do, so instead, no one gets one.

angel2Bikes and some video games are the few big-ticket gifts her girls have asked for. When that happens, she just tries to tell them those are things they’re not likely to get when the gifts are being donated. Nine times out of 10, the girls are fine with that and happy with whatever they receive.

Nashika said she doesn’t look to Angel Tree to get her kids all the things they want, anyway. “I just look at it as [donors] are getting what they can based on their budget. They look at my profile and see that I have girls; most of the time, it’s women who are doing this, so they’re going to get some things they feel like a girl should had.

“Overall, it’s Christmas; it’s people working from the kindness of their hearts.”

And speaking of the kindness of people’s hearts, she said the people who work Angel Tree are wonderful.

“I love that they’re always smiling. It’s not about business all the time with these people; it’s an automatic relationship. They have consideration of what people go through in our everyday lives, and they’re there, smiling and helping. They’re always in a good mood, regardless, and I know it’s a hard job.”

Angel Tree started for Nashika and other participants in October, when they registered their children. In December, they’ll pick up their kids’ gifts; Nashika will get hers during Louisville’s Dec. 19-21 distribution, which, like the registration, is at the Louisville Salvation Army’s new Angel Tree/Emergency Disaster Services warehouse.

“It’s really, really organized, so it isn’t anything that’s that hard,” she said of Angel Tree.

Nashika loves both the program and The Salvation Army. She wishes for more volunteers to help them.

“They need volunteers – both helping and with funds,” she said. “I know last year they were really stressed out because it wasn’t as healthy as it had been. I saw people with big bags [of gifts] and people with itty bitty bags, and I saw the effect on some parents’ faces. I heard the workers say there was a decrease in donations and people who wanted to be involved. ”

She hopes people understand the good the program does and encourages them to contribute.

“The feelings you get from something like this are so great,” she said. “On top of that, it’s a tax write-off, so it’s a win-win.”