Salvation Army Celebrates Christmas Kick-Off At Edgewater Mall

From 8,000 angels last year, to more than 10,000 this year, the Salvation Army's efforts to help children in need is growing thanks to coast residents like Jennifer Bourland.  She brought her son West to pick out angels for him and his little brother.

"As much as they like to receive, it's also very important to give.  It's very important the kids know there's people out there a lot less fortunate than us," says Jennifer Bourland.

"I love it when the angels fly off the tree," says Stephanie Rosetti, Salvation Army Christmas Coordinator.

Rosetti says coast families aren't the only ones helping, organizations are also pitching in to help during the holidays.

"We have for instance a church in Gulfport, Trinity United Methodist church, who has taken an entire week of kettle ringing, and I like to challenge other churches to do that same thing to help us out," says Stephanie Rosetti.

About 5,000 coast families will receive two boxes of food as well as clothes and toys for the kids from angel tree donations.

"It's like being Santa Claus and one of his elves to be able to be apart of it.  It's a thrill," says Major William Cundiff, Salvation Army.

West Bourland says he plans to give his angel, Daniel, a truck for Christmas. His mom says giving to others in need is a lesson worth learning, one she's teaching her children now, so they can carry it with them for the rest of their lives.

This afternoon's program featured singers from the Wings Program at the Lynn Meadow Discovery Center.

This year's honorary angel tree chairperson is Carrie Duncan. She teamed up with Krystal Allan who will serve as this year's honorary kettle chair.