Angel Tree Charity Program Guide

Updated April 7, 2021
Little girl holding Christmas present

The Salvation Army's annual Angel Tree charity event provides an excellent opportunity for those who want to make a difference to bring a smile to the faces of underprivileged children during the holiday season. This giving opportunity doesn't require a significant commitment of money or time, so it's an excellent choice for donors with very small budgets as well as for those who are able to make a significant contribution.

About the Angel Tree Charity

The ultimate goal of the Angel Tree program is to get new toys and clothing into the hands of needy children during the holiday season. Families who are eligible to participate in the program submit requests for items that each person in the household needs to the Salvation Army in advance of the holiday season.

Angel Tags

The Salvation Army relies on sponsoring organizations to display angel trees in high-traffic areas throughout the holiday season. A paper angel ornament is made for each child that includes details about the requested items. Each ornament includes the first name, gender, and age of the child who will benefit from the donations. The angels may also include clothing and shoe sizes, particular items requested, and other information.

The ornaments are numbered and placed on Christmas trees in shopping centers, participating in workplace locations, or other areas provided by sponsoring organizations. To find out how to display an Angel Tree at your place of business or to locate a tree in your community, contact your local Salvation Army office. You can find the facility closest to where you live by entering your ZIP code in the location finder at

Signing Up a Child for the Program

The process of signing up children to receive gifts through the Angel Tree Salvation Army program is coordinated through local Salvation Army offices. Participation is limited to those who meet age, income, and residency requirements. The individual must also not sign up for aid from other holiday programs.

Applications are usually accepted starting in early October. Participation is limited to children under 12, but there are programs available for families and teens. Contact the Salvation Army office in your community for specifics in your area.

Common Application Requirements

While the procedure may differ somewhat from one location to another, you can expect to be required to provide a variety of documents when you apply. Necessary paperwork generally includes:

  • Valid photo ID (for the child's parent or legal guardian)
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of custody/guardianship if the adult applying is not the biological parent of the child
  • Social security cards (for both parents/guardians and children)
  • Birth certificates (for each individual)
  • Apparel and footwear sizes (for each child)
  • Proof of income (demonstrating financial need)

Suitable proof of income documents typically include:

  • Prior year's taxes
  • Paperwork certifying approval for free or reduced school lunches
  • Letter granting approval for food stamps
  • Documentation of Medicaid approval for the children (award letter or individual coverage cards)

Contributing to the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program

People who are interested in contributing to the Angel Tree Charity Program 'adopt' one or more of the angel ornaments. In some cases, groups choose to adopt an angel as a holiday charity project. This can be an excellent charitable activity for co-workers, neighborhood associations, sororities, supper clubs, and other groups that get together regularly. Angels can also be adopted by individuals.

Girl wrapping Christmas gifts

Donors remove their angel from the tree and purchase gift items appropriate for the child represented by the ornament. It's important to place the appropriate number on each item to ensure that all gifts make it to the proper program participants. Once the items have been purchased and prepared for giving, the donor delivers the items to a designated Salvation Army Angel Tree program drop-off spot so they can be delivered to the appropriate children in time for Christmas. In most cases, donations can be dropped off at the same location where the angel was picked up.

Angel Tree Locations

The Christmas Angel Tree program locations are found all over the United States. Anyone can sign up to be a sponsor by finding their local contact. However, as of 2020, Walmart teamed up with Salvation Army to sponsor Angel Trees at Walmart stores.

Volunteer Opportunities

The Salvation Army Angel Tree Program relies on the assistance of dedicated volunteers to make the Angel Tree Charity Program a success each year. Those who are interested in volunteering for this worthy cause help out with preparing angel ornaments, staffing the Angel Tree locations, delivering gifts to participating families, and more. Information about how to volunteer your time is available on the Ways to Give page on the Salvation Army's website.

About the Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is associated with the Universal Christian Church. The charitable organization is highly visible throughout many communities during the Christmas season each year, with both the Angel Tree program and the familiar Red Kettle fundraising program. However, the organization's activities are not limited to the holidays. The Salvation Army provides assistance to approximately 25 million Americans each year via a wide spectrum of programs that include disaster relief, shelter, and clothing for the homeless, outreach to elderly and disabled individuals and more.

Angel Tree Charity Program Guide