A gymnasium full of toys on Dec. 21 was visible proof that Mesquite children wouldn’t be disappointed this Christmas thanks to the generous spirit of local Angel Tree donors. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Many Mesquite residents who needed or wanted a little extra help this Christmas turned to the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program.

The spirit of the season and generosity of Mesquite donors was obvious as you stepped into a gymnasium full of toys destined for Virgin Valley children ranging from dolls and action figures to bikes and clothing. There were even a few gifts spread about like glassware and crockpots that were obviously children’s wishes that Santa didn’t forget their mom.

Salvation Army volunteers fill carts with toys that will be wheeled out to the waiting recipients of the Angel Tree program. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Captain Lisa Smith expressed her thanks to the Mesquite community for their continued support of Angel Tree and other charitable organizations. She feels extremely fortunate to work in a community that inspires such generosity to others. 

There are many ‘Angel Tree’ projects in existence, one of them being the Salvation Army’s program which began in 1979 in Lynchburg, VA. It was

Salvation Army volunteers help load carts full of toys, donated to the Angel Tree program, into the waiting vehicles lined up outside of the old gymnasium on Dec. 21. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

created by Majors Charles and Shirley White. ‘Angel Tree’ was so named because they originally asked the children to write their Christmas wishes on Hallmark greeting cards which featured angels. The Angel Tree program was created to ensure that many struggling families would not have to disappoint their children on Christmas. 

Mesquite donors were so generous with the Angel Tree program this year that some families had to arrange for two vehicles just to accommodate the abundance of donations they received. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Three years after launching the program and helping over 700 children the first year alone, the Whites and the program moved to Nashville, TN. The Grand Ol’ Opry then joined in as the first U.S. co-sponsor. Because of the popularity of the radio station that aired the Grand Ol’ Opry, the popularity spread. With the help of celebrities such as Larry King the program quickly spread across the country and right here to Mesquite where over 100 families were given a lot of extra help for their children this Christmas because of the generosity of Mesquite’s Angel Tree donors.