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    Arlene and Priscilla Delgado, ages 4 and 8, each used their savings to purchase Christmas toys for a less fortunate child through the Salvation Army San Bernardino Corp’s Giving Tree program at Inland Center Mall. Help the Salvation Army obtain more toys for children in need by going to the Giving Tree near the mall’s Food Court. Photo by Kelly Silvestri-Raabe

    To share Christmas joy with a deserving child, come to Inland Center Mall and select a tag indicating a child’s age, sex and gift preference. Or find and order a gift for a local child online at jcp.com/angel. Photo by Carl Dameron

    (SAN BERNARDINO, Calf.) It might seem like a very small gesture in the grand scheme of things, but when the local Salvation Army Corps (www.salvationarmyusa.org) and several businesses annually join forces to make the holiday season memorable for the needy children of the Inland Empire, it makes a huge difference in so many lives.
    Known as the Angel Giving Tree programs, it revolves around actual Christmas trees, which are set up in local malls the day after Thanksgiving to match shoppers with the hundreds of children in each location who are relying on the Salvation Army this year to bring them a Merry Christmas.
    Shoppers wishing to participate will find attached to branches of the tree cards with the names of children whose families simply cannot afford to buy gifts. Shoppers who want to take part by helping disadvantaged children simply pluck a tag off the Giving Tree, read the child’s name and wish list, and then head for the appropriate store for a little sharing of their own.
    “This is a great way to start a tradition with your own family, by selecting a gift for a needy child together. The gifts are based on their individual wishes and for some children, it may be the only gift they receive all year,” said Major Nancy Ball of the San Bernardino Corps of The Salvation Army.
    San Bernardino Corps puts its Giving Tree in the Inland Center Mall (500 Inland Center Drive, San Bernardino) near the food court.
    The Ontario Corps puts trees in front of JC Penney’s at the Montclair Plaza (5060 E. Montclair Plaza Lane, Montclair) inside the Macy’s store. The Redlands Corps puts a tree at Wal-Mart (2050 W. Redlands Blvd., Redlands).
    However, not all corps have actual trees. The Riverside Corps asks shoppers to call (951) 784-4490, ext. 100 to obtain the name of and requests of more than 3,000 children on its “Angel” list.
    Since online shopping is also a popular way to buy Christmas gifts, JC Penney’s has a partnership with the Salvation Army allowing shoppers to go to jcp.com/angel and search for children (and in some places senior citizens) in any ZIP Code.  The website allows online shoppers to order a gift for them from JC Penney’s online catalog, and gives them the choice of dropping the gift off at their local Salvation Army’s collection center, or of having UPS ship it, at no charge, to that collection center.
    The Salvation Army also is looking for other businesses in both San Bernardino and Riverside counties, who would like to have a tree at their place of business for employees and/or customers.
    To host an Angel Tree in San Bernardino, Colton, Grand Terrace, Rialto, Bloomington or Highland, call (909) 888-1336. Elsewhere, call 1-(800)-SAL-ARMY.
    “Soccer balls, dolls and clothes are just a few items on each child’s wish list,” said Major Ball. “Shoppers who participate in the program are encouraged to shop for more than what is needed on the list.  I can’t think of a better way for business owners and managers to help the community and spread the spirit of Christmas.”
    Salvation Army volunteers make sure the presents are earmarked for each specific child.
    About the Salvations Army San Bernardino Corps
    The Salvation Army may be able to provide emergency services including food; lodging for homeless or displaced families; clothing and furniture; assistance with rent or mortgage and transportation when funds are available. The Salvation Army Team Radio Network assists rescue workers and evacuees in such disasters as fires.
    The San Bernardino Corps serves: Bloomington, Colton, Grand Terrace, Highland, Rialto and San Bernardino.
    The Salvation Army is an evangelical part of the Universal Christian church and also offers evangelical programs for boys, girls and adults. One of the largest charitable and international service organizations in the world, The Salvation Army has been in existence since 1865 and in San Bernardino since 1887, supporting those in need without discrimination. Donations may always be made online at www.salvationarmyusa.org or by calling 1-(800)-SAL-ARMY.
    For local help, please call (909) 888-1336.


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