FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- With Christmas a week away, the Salvation Army, in the Sandhills, found great success in their annual Angel Tree Program, despite worries of less turnout because of the ongoing pandemic.
The local branch spent all of Thursday and Friday handing out gifts to more than 1,100 children and senior citizens, ensuring no one in the county goes without a present.
The drive-thru delivery system has been in place for several years, but Major Cheryl Grider, with the Sandhills branch, says this method of handing out the gifts was convenient for the times.
"It's very, haha, COVID friendly," Grider said.
Initially, because of the coronavirus, Grider says they were concerned there wouldn't be enough donors to fulfill the large need in the community.
Salvation Army officials had to heavily rely on community members personally calling their office number to sign up to adopt an angel. Their regular Christmas trees that were set up were unmanned due to COVID-19 related safety concerns. However, despite the concern, the community stepped up.
"More than enough help with our angels. We got them all adopted earlier than we thought we would," Grider added.
Grider tells Eyewitness News that 2020 has been a financially difficult time for thousands of people in the community. "A lot of them have lost their jobs, um, that have told us that they are just out of work. They don't have money to pay their rent, pay their bills, and so, they definitely don't have money for Christmas gifts this year."
With the Angel Tree Program wrapped up, the non-profit is hoping to see an equally large turn out for the Red Kettle Fundraiser. The money raised from this yearly event will allow the Salvation Army to fund its programs and outreaches for the rest of 2021.
"Come January, we're really worried because a lot of people are going to have to start paying those bills, so we definitely need all the support we can get," Grider said.
If you would like to donate, you can go to the Salvation Army's website for more details.