2,000 area children, seniors hoping for a Christmas miracle - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

2,000 area children, seniors hoping for a Christmas miracle

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The Salvation Army's Angel Tree program has a need like never before, with more than 2,000 angels still needing adoption. The number of angels has nearly doubled in the last five years to more than 5,000 people.

For thousands of families in the community, the Angel Tree is their last hope at any kind of Christmas wish coming true.

Sandy Leavell needed a Christmas miracle 22 years ago.

"It's a very humbling experience, and a fear that is really difficult to comprehend if you've never been there," she said.

Her son was just 7-years-old at the time. The holidays were quickly approaching, but she had no job and, therefore, no presents under the tree.

"I had a period of illness, had several surgeries and was out of work," she said.

Given the situation, Sandy had no idea how Santa was going to make it to her household that year. But The Salvation Army's Angel Tree stood in the gap.

"The Angel Tree provided Christmas for my son on Christmas morning."

Each year the Angel Tree provides Christmas presents for thousands of local children and seniors in need. But this year more than 2,000 angels are still on the trees, waiting for someone to be their Christmas miracle.

"I just wanted to come out and see if I could help," said Jean Mauroner, who was adopting an angel from Hamilton Place Mall's tree on Wednesday.

Jean has three sons of her own, which inspired her to adopt an 8-year-old boy from the Angel Tree. The child, named Enrique, has a simple wish list: cars, Lego's, action figures and books.

"Every child at that age deserves Christmas," Jean said.

For those who've had previous help from the Angel Tree, like Sandy and her family, it's a Christmas morning that will be remembered forever.

"My son woke up on Christmas morning saying, 'I must have been a really good boy, because I got everything I asked Santa Claus for,'" she recalled, smiling.

After receiving that help so many years ago, Sandy now works for the Angel Tree, and hopes someone out there will be the angel for somebody else.

"We just have to hold on to the faith that it's going to happen."

The deadline to adopt a child or senior from the Angel Tree is December 8. Angel Trees are located at three different malls: Hamilton Place, Northgate and Bradley Square. Angels may also be adopted by calling The Salvation Army's office at (423) 756-1023.

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