Celebrating 30 Years of Toys!
The year was 1990 and the Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtle Action Figure was the toy of choice to find under the Christmas tree for millions of children across America. Unfortunately for some, the idea of finding anything under the tree at all was simply no more than a dream, a wish and a hope. That same year, The Salvation Army and local NBC affiliate WOOD TV8 formed a partnership that would ultimately last three decades (and counting) and provide toys for over ½ million children in West Michigan that would otherwise have gone without.
The Angel Tree Toy Drive was born and has never looked back. With a profound sense of gratefulness, Julie Brinks, Vice President and General Manager WOOD TV8, summed-up the relationship as one of a true partnership and collaboration:
“WOOD TV8 has been proud to partner in this tradition for the past three decades. Serving the community is what we do and being able to support West Michigan families to provide hope and happiness around the holidays has been a privilege. The Salvation Army has been a wonderful partner and we are grateful to be a voice to spread awareness of this long-standing tradition in West Michigan.”
Over the years, the partnership has flourished. On any given year, the toy drive provides nearly 6,500 children with toys in Kent County alone and toys for over 25,000 children in the WOOD TV8 viewing area. The Salvation Army provides logistic support and WOOD TV8 provides on-air mentions, interviews and stories from the field.
These stories are tied to messaging that cross-promote the Angel Tree Program with our respective Red Kettle Christmas campaigns and are aired during the month of December. These stories have included a bell ringer in Muskegon, a single parent in transitional housing in Grand Haven, a client turned employee at the Grand Rapids Adult Rehabilitation Center, to name just a few. This year, we’re featuring two retired sisters in Kalamazoo who together have logged 22 years of service in support of the Angel Tree Toy Drive.
The community impact the toy drive has created is certainly not lost on Salvation Army leadership. Major Glen Caddy, Divisional Commander is adamant about the positive impact the program has had in communities across West Michigan: “Having a 30-year relationship with WOOD TV8 through the Angel Tree program has allowed The Salvation Army in Western Michigan to come alongside of thousands of families each year and provide happiness to tens of thousands of children. We are extremely grateful for their partnership with WOOD TV8 as we fulfill our promise of “Doing the Most Good”. Our communities are better because of them.”
It’s difficult to know what the toy of choice will be in another 30 years. More likely than not, The Salvation Army and WOOD TV8 will once again be meeting the needs of children and adults as they have done for decades.
Want to learn more and get involved? Visit our Angel Tree web page to get all the details about hosting a tree, donating toys and volunteering. We can't do it without our many, many friends in the community!