GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - If you were an angel tree recipient during 2013 and want to take part in the program again this year the Salvation Army has changed up the program a bit for those in Harrison, Stone and Pearl River counties. Officials say it is a way to assist the recipients to better help themselves.
Those who need aid with Christmas presents for their little ones take part in the Angel Tree Program put on by the Salvation Army.
Last year 1,500 children received a present through the Angel Tree Program in Harrison, Stone and Pearl River counties.
But this year, anyone from Harrison, Stone or Pearl River counties who participated in just the 2013 angel tree program will be required to take three life skills classes if they need to take part in Angel Tree again.
So far, only 15 people having taken those classes. Officials say the classes are meant to help people get ahead.
"We wanted to be able to better equip families for these troubled times that we're living in. Some of them, perhaps have had to get a job for the first time and don't know how to interview for a job," said Major Beth Sturdivant with the Salvation Army.
Officials say they realize not everyone has the same needs therefore the Salvation Army offers a variety of classes to those who need to take them.
"Life skill classes, job interviewing classes, a couponing class, parenting classes, many different things that would help benefit them over this next year," said Sturdivant.
"Mostly, I am the one who schedules the classes. We also go out and partner with other agencies like Habit for Humanity and Hope Credit Union also taught some of those classes to give a better overall type of lesson for our clients," said Stacy Crandle who is the Social Service Program Coordinator for the Salvation Army.
Officials will asses all no class requirements for those who took part in angel tree before 2013. If this is your first year receiving assistance you will not be required to take the life skills classes.
"It's important because we want to give them skills. We don't want to just put a Band-Aid on their situation. We want to be able to give them a hand up and not a hand out and just giving them the toys every single year is a hand out, but if we teach them something that they can take and use in their everyday life to me, that's a hand up," said Crandle.
The deadline to take the Salvation Army Life Skills classes is September 9, 10 and 11. The classes are offered at the Salvation Army Command Center on 22nd Street in Gulfport.
Here is the class schedule:
Tuesday, Sept. 9 at 10 a.m.: Budgeting on a Tight Budget
Wednesday, Sept. 10 at 10 a.m.: Creating a Financial Backup Plan
Thursday, Sept. 11 at 10 a.m.: Communication Skills
For more information on the classes or the Angel Tree Program you can call the Salvation Army at 228-374-8301.