Harrisonburg officials prepare for annual angel tree program

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — The Harrisonburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority (HRHA) started its annual initiative to make sure all children have a great Christmas, and it needs the community's help.

Ages of children in the program range from newborn to 15-years-old | Photo: WHSV

Michael Wong, the executive director of the Harrisonburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority, said that this year, HRHA will help close to 100 families celebrate Christmas without additional stress.

"Each year it's been wonderful to see all of them be able to enjoy some type of Christmas holiday season," said Wong.

Children in families that qualify for the family self-sufficiency program apply for their children to be put on an angel tree.

Cherie Washington is a participant in the family self-sufficiency program and said this is her first official year participating in the Christmas program, but her daughter did receive gifts from the program last year.

"They gave me a call and told me they had some nice gifts for my daughter, so it really helped out," said Washington.

She said as a single mom who is new to the area, she really appreciated the help.

Children's ages, sizes, and likes are put on a card that goes onto a tree outside of JCPenney in the Valley Mall. People from the community can take a name, purchase the items, and they are delivered to the families closer to Christmas.

Darline Estrada said she already works 60 hours a week, and this program takes the stress off of her having to work additional hours and miss more time with her family.

"So it's hard, and sometimes I have to leave them with the babysitters, so they get more time with the babysitter than me," said Estrada.

Last year was her first year as a participant, and she said her daughter got a handmade blanket, which left a big impression.

"My daughter had a blanket, and now she sleeps with it every night," said Estrada.

Children's ages on the tree range from newborn to 15 years old, but gifts for children 13 to 15 are most needed.

"Any of these little gifts are really a tremendous value to them and it makes a difference in their lives," said Wong.

The tree will go up on November 8, 2019, and then come down the first week of December.