SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – With only two weeks left until the deadline, many children in Northwest Louisiana may be waking up with nothing under the tree this Christmas.

The Salvation Army is facing a growing challenge; the number of children in need continues to grow, but the number of sponsors in their Angel Tree initiative is dwindling.

Each year Northwest Louisiana schools and social service agencies team up with the Salvation Army of NWLA to help disadvantaged families. Participants are interviewed to verify the family needs help. Angel tags are printed for each child on the trees at area malls, local companies and other organizations.

Donors then choose Angels to sponsor, purchase gifts, and return them to the Salvation Army by the deadline. The gifts are then organized by parish and taken to their dedicated distribution site for pickup by the families. Pickup for the families is from Dec. 19-20th.

However, rising inflation has hit families across the country hard. Costs in October were 7.7% higher on average than at the same time last year, straining family budgets and putting more families in distress. This is causing a rise in economically disadvantaged households, meaning more children on the Angel Tree and fewer sponsors to help them.

Salvation Army Angel Tree in KTAL lobby
Salvation Army Angel Tree in KTAL lobby (Source: KTAL/KMSS staff)

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 46% of people felt their financial situations were poor, up from 37% in March.

In 2019, between 750 to 800 Angels needed clothes, toys and other items in Northwest Louisiana. That number increased dramatically in 2020 to 1250 children. The following year saw them jump another 33%. This year there are a record 1711 families who need help to provide Christmas presents to their children.

Angel LocationsNumber RegisteredNumber AdoptedStill needing a Home
Bossier Head Start1197544
Bossier Parish Schools19111873
Boys & Girls Club47470
Caddo Head Start1195267
Caddo Parish Schools1459748
Claiborne Parish Schools22694132
DeSoto Parish Schools1241240
Red River Parish Schools394183211
Sabine Parish Schools34340
Webster Parish Schools20598107
The Salvation Army1071043
Source: Northwest Louisiana Salvation Army

Members of the community, businesses, organizations, and/or private citizens can adopt in-person or online.

If you would like to adopt an angel online, visit the Salvation Army Shreveport-Bossier Facebook page or their website. To adopt a group, family, or from specific parishes, call the Salvation Army at (318) 424-3200 and ask for Julie (ext. 28).

Gifts should be unwrapped and returned to the Salvation Army of NWLA at 200 E. Stoner Ave. in Shreveport by Dec. 2nd.

Monetary donations with a memo for Angel Tree are also accepted. Other ways to help this Christmas include donating new toys, clothes and coats in child and small adult sizes.