Community’s help needed to share hope for the holiday season

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — It’s no surprise, the pandemic has caused an increase in need this year for local families. The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree is full for Christmas, and Riley Children’s Hospital’s cheer guild needs help restocking their shelves.

The local Angel Tree is serving 1,000 more children than last year.

“We’re targeting about 6,000 angels this year,” Angel Tree Coordinator Gordon Knight said. “We’re on target to hit that number.”

Knight said a portion of the families who will be served never thought they would need to sign up this year.

“A lot of the messages I get on a daily basis are actually because of COVID, I lost my job or I’ve got a family member that’s out,” Knight said.

Nationwide, supply chain issues are causing concerns for local nonprofits alongside businesses. Experts are urging people to start their Christmas shopping early, and the Salvation Army hopes people take that advice.

“There’s a lot of duplicate requests which is a concern for capacity of the stores, obviously, because I do know stores are struggling to keep shelves stocked,” Knight said.

The Rileys Cheer Guild is hoping the community will help them fill their shelves once more.

“When we have a restriction of three UNO games, card games, well we’re not actually able to get the numbers that we need,” Director Ann Hannan said.

The cheer guild gifts toys to Riley’s young patients to lift their spirits and ease the burden of bad news.

“There are times when children might be receiving a new diagnosis and as they’re learning about how that’s going to impact their bodies, we have doctor’s kits that with a child life specialist they could practice some of the different procedures and tests they might have to have,” Hannan said.

Riley’s team said people can purchase items from their Amazon and Target wishlists, ship items to Riley or schedule donation drop-offs. Hannan said over a third of their patients at any given time are under the age of 2.

“That is a really important age where kids are learning and developing and growing at a really rapid pace, so that is why one of our greatest needs right now happens to be toys that are appropriate for kids under the age of 3, which can be obviously hard to find,” Hannan said. “We look for things that are really colorful that might have lights and sounds.”

For more information about the need for the Riley Cheer Guild, visit rileycheerguild.org.

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