ORLANDO, Fla. – Sometimes Santa's elves don't ride in a sleigh or work in a toy workshop, but sit in a mall food courts dressed in red, guarding a tree that will help Central Florida's children to wake up Christmas morning with presents under their own trees.
That's what Malcolm and Rosemary Clarke were doing at the Mall at Millenia Tuesday, donning their red volunteer shirts, for the annual Salvation Army's Angel Tree program, helping people in the community sign up to buy children gifts.
The Clarkes said it's their favorite activity post-retirement and they've been participating for years. The couple volunteers their time each year helping the Salvation Army to make sure no child goes without something special on Christmas.
“You can't imagine, can you? Getting up Christmas morning, having children around and not being able to give to them. I just can't imagine what it's like,” Malcolm Clarke said.
The couple praised the Central Florida community for its donations that mean 3,600 children will receive presents through the Salvation Army program this year. The tree is a personal touch, because people can shop for the specific clothes, shoes and toys they want a child to have based on a wishlist.
“That's what it's all about, it's making Christmas for every child who's on that tree, who otherwise would have a very poor Christmas,” Malcolm Clarke said.
Donors can choose to adopt an angel from Christmas tree locations across Orange and Osceola counties at Mall at Millenia, Chick-fil-A and Nick’s Family Diner. Find a location near you here.
Angel Tree gifts should be returned to the same location by Dec. 9.