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Johnson County Angel Tree now accepting applications

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WARRENSBURG — With Halloween barely in the rearview mirror, it’s time for the Johnson County Angel to begin preparing for Christmas.

The annual holiday assistance program is now in its 28th year of helping Johnson County residents.

“We help families who are at risk or their children are at risk of needing help with receiving Christmas gifts during the holiday season, whether they fell on a hard time or COVID took them out of work or whatever the case may be,” said President Jennifer Hardin. “We get a lot of recommendations through the school counselors, Salvation Army, Missouri Valley, Compass Health.”

Families can fill out an application Nov. 1-13 at 609 E. Young Ave. Suites 3-5, Warrensburg. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Applicants need a current photo ID and proof of residence, such as a utility bill received within the last 30 days. Those requesting assistance for non-biological children must show custody paperwork. Families should also bring birth certificates for their children in case one is requested. Masks are required in the building and only one person per household is allowed inside. No children under the age of 14 can come inside. 

Then comes the fun part: providing as much information as possible about the children so Angel Tree can try to obtain items on their wish list.

Guardians will provide the child’s name, age, needs and wants, and clothing sizes. Angel Tree volunteers will put that information on a label to be placed on trees around the community. Citizens can choose a tag and purchase that item for the child. So far, trees are planned to be located at Walmart, Boss Body Fitness, Equity Bank, Central Missouri Community Credit Union, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Heroes Restaurant, and both Shoe Sensation locations. Trees should be up by the week of Thanksgiving.

All items must be returned by Dec. 8 to the business where the tag was chosen or at the Angel Tree center on Young Avenue. Volunteers then spend that week purchasing items for children whose tags were not returned by the deadline.

Families receiving assistance can pick up their gifts at the Young Avenue center Dec. 16-18.

There are plenty of ways to contribute other than purchasing an item from an Angel Tree tag. Hardin said there are many volunteer opportunities, such as helping take applications, shopping for additional items, and wrapping gifts. 

Monetary donations are also accepted and used to keep the program going, whether for utilities, insurance or purchasing gifts to fill in the gaps of donated items. The program is a 501c3 and is entirely operated by volunteers.

According to Hardin, Johnson County Angel Tree helps an average of 400 to 500 children per year. She has been involved with the program for 27 of its 28 years and has been the president for 14. 

“No matter what one’s belief is, Christmas is Christmas. It’s a time when you’re supposed to be there for others,” Hardin said. “... (I’ve seen) the emotional response from some families who you just absolutely know when you have touched somebody; they didn’t know what they were going to do without the program. If it wasn’t for the generous members of the community that make our program a success, we wouldn’t have a program. If people weren’t there to donate like they do, the program wouldn’t be what it is.” 

Monetary donations can be sent to:

540 E. Young Ave. Suite A

PO 270

Warrensburg, MO 64093

For more information, email johnsoncomoangeltree@gmail.com or stop by the center.

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