How it started, how it’s going: A timeline of the Angel Tree program

News 6, Salvation Army teams up to get results for 4,000 children and 1,000 seniors

ORLANDO, Fla. – Believe it or not, planning for the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program starts way before you think.

From hiring seasonal staff, volunteer groups to collecting angel tree applications from families, Capt. Jessie Chapman said the work takes months.

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“We usually start taking applications usually the first part of September through the middle of October,” she said.

News 6 and the Salvation Army kicked off the Angel Tree program on Nov. 18 at the Mall at Millenia, which was one of the places people were able to adopt an angel this year.

Then came Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign on Nov. 26 at Orlando’s Icon Park.

That’s where Chapman spent 10 hours riding the Icon Wheel to raise awareness and fundraise for the nonprofit’s mission, “Hope Marches On!”

“We raise 60% of our budget in December, so this is a critical month for us,” Chapman explained.

Then during a phone bank with News 6, the Salvation Army raised a record-breaking $337,000 on Giving Tuesday for the Angel Tree program with the help of one generous donor, Light Orlando.

Within the last month, News 6 viewers donated and got results for 4,000 children and 1,000 seniors, which leads us to Distribution Day on Thursday.

“We are going to have joy just flowing down throughout this entire area today from early this morning to late tonight when our last families come through. We are having 50 cars every 30 minutes and our volunteers, and our elves are taking everything out to the cars for our families today,” Chapman said.

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About the Author:

Ezzy Castro is a multimedia journalist on News 6's morning team who has a passion for telling the stories of the people in the Central Florida community. Ezzy worked at WFOR CBS4 in South Florida and KBMT in Beaumont, Texas, where she covered Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Being from Miami, Ezzy loves Cuban coffee and croquetas!