For children waking up on Christmas morning, racing to find presents under the tree is the most exciting moment of the season. However, in far too many households this year, parents are forced to buy basic necessities instead of presents for their children. In other households, incarcerated parents are unable to provide gifts or witness the joy in their children’s eyes as they tear through wrapping paper on that magical morning. While the COVID-19 pandemic continues, a record number of parents are relying on angel tree and Toys for Tots programs to ensure their children have something under the tree.
>>Keep reading to learn how two Charlotte churches used Givelify to fundraise for their angel tree efforts.<<
Angel Tree Need Is Greater This Year
Across the country, the story is the same. Atlanta’s Toys for Tots program saw the need increase 10 times over last year. In Jacksonville, angel tree requests doubled this year, and with one week until distribution, 1,000 angels had yet to be adopted. In Charlotte, 60 percent more families asked the Salvation Army for toys due to the pandemic.
“This year, it’s been difficult,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Toys for Tots coordinator Francis Frazier told WCNC.com. “It hurts. You’re thinking about the requests that have come in that we may not be able to fulfill.”
While demand is for these programs is up across the board, coordinators have noted that donations and volunteers are noticeably down this year. In many cases, people who once donated to these programs now find themselves needing help.
Churches Step Up In Time of Need
St. Paul Baptist Church in Charlotte has participated in a Toys for Tots drive for the past seven years, and church leaders felt it was important that this year the program would proceed as normal. As always, fundraising for the program started in early November, but church leaders set a lower target for 2020.
“This year, we lowered our goal because we have some leftover from last year,” said church administrator Karen Archable.
For the next month and a half, church members used Givelify’s online and mobile giving app, to contribute to the cause. By the end of the campaign, church members surpassed 2019’s goal by 30 percent.
St. Paul Baptist Church collected dozens of bikes, toys and donations for its annual angel tree program.
“We asked our disciples to make up the gap of bicycles and skateboards we normally provide, and we were able to receive 400 percent of our goal. We have plenty to truly be a blessing to over 200 families this year.”
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“What I have seen consistently is that the members of St. Paul are very giving, especially to causes,” said Archable. “Another thing, Pastor Robert Scott has no problem asking, and when he asks, they give.”
Giving Beyond Church Walls
At The Park Church, also in Charlotte, the angel tree program provides presents for the children of incarcerated parents. An outgrowth of the church’s prison ministry, this program started more than 15 years ago. This year, to keep the program going, something would need to change.
“Our pastor, Bishop Claude Richard Alexander, Jr. has emphasized how we have pivoted to continue the programs and the impact that our church has in our community. He didn’t want that to diminish.”
In the past, the only way church members and visitors could participate was by picking up an angel, which listed a child’s name and a list of gifts, during one of the church’s worship services. However, due to COVID-19, the church’s three campuses are closed.
“This year, because we’re not in our buildings, we launched our angel tree via Givelify, and asked people to donate online,” said Boston. “We have a large, online presence, and our online viewers felt good about being able to participate this year and have done so. We had a better response this year than we have had in the past.”
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According to Boston, The Park Church will also provide sponsorships for about 200 children.
After the Holidays, The Mission Continues
While Christmas toys for families are priorities for both The Park Church and St. Paul Baptist Church this season, their missions extend beyond the holidays. Both churches work year-round to provide financial and food assistance to community members in need and those impacted by COVID-19.
“I have first-hand interaction with families who are about to be evicted and don’t have food. It hurts my heart to see what people are going through,” said Archable. ”We try our best to help in those areas as well.”
Do More Good, Starting Now
In a year of unprecedented challenges and need, Givelify is powering places of worship and nonprofits to meet and surpass fundraising goals with mobile giving. Sign your organization up today and discover why Givelify is the #1 platform for growing online and mobile giving.