TRENTON, N.C. --
Five Marines and a sailor with II Marine Expeditionary Force volunteered their time to help the Salvation Army sort goods donated to their Angel Tree Program here Dec. 18.
Petty Officer 1st Class Chelboni Singleton, a religious program specialist with II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, II MEF, was the coordinator for the event
“I've been coordinating this with (the Salvation Army) since the end of November, when we held an MHG Thanksgiving food drive for them,” Singleton said.
Every year the Salvation Army places angel trees in high traffic shopping centers. The tags on the trees contain a child’s first name, age, sex, clothing size and the item he would like or need. Anonymous donors can then pick the tags off the tree and buy the gifts and return them to the tree.
The Salvation Army representatives tasked the troops with making sure families received toys and clothes from the angel trees and with compiling gifts for families whose angel tag had not been picked from a tree or did not include any clothing items.
Staff Sgt. Thomas Tackett, the assistant operations chief with Transition Team Training Cell, II MHG, said the most rewarding part of the day was finding children who didn't have an angel assigned and finding them something for their Christmas.
Tackett said sorting the gifts for more than 80 families with two to five children each was a daunting task.
“If we weren't there to help, they would have been there all night long unloading, sorting and matching those toys and clothes. Our assistance was definitely needed to make the day a success,” Singleton said.
The day centered on sorting gifts, but one very special gift made a big impact on the Camp Lejeune-based volunteers, she said.
On one of the angel tags, a mother requested a bed for her little boy. An anonymous donor made that wish a reality.
Some of the troops had an opportunity to personally give this family their bed.
“It was my favorite part of the day when we delivered that bed to a needy family,” Singleton said. “Of all the toys we sorted and matched, that gift to me was the most meaningful of them all.”