Friday, November 21, 2008

Sharing Trees Sprouting at Inland Malls

Sharing Trees such as this one from a past holiday season at Inland Center Mall will soon sprout at Inland Center, Montclair Plaza, Ontario Mills Mall and the Redlands Wal-Mart. They’re staffed by workers and volunteers from The Salvation Army and provide an opportunity for visitors to help those less fortunate by shopping for toys on a needy child’s wish list. Photo by Carl Dameron

(SAN BERNARDINO, Calf.) Local Salvation Army Corps and several businesses have joined forces to make this holiday season one the needy children of the Inland Empire will never forget, thanks to a program called Sharing Trees.

“This decades-long program is among the Army’s most popular efforts during the Christmas season,” said Captain Stephen Ball, head of the San Bernardino Corps of The Salvation Army. The children in need are helped, and the public is rewarded knowing they brought joy to a child who may have otherwise had an empty and sad holiday.”

The Salvation Army takes over portions of the Inland Center Mall (500 Inland Center Drive, San Bernardino), Ontario Mills Mall (1 Mills Circle, Ontario), Montclair Plaza (5060 E. Montclair Plaza Lane, Montclair) and the Redlands Wal-Mart (2050 W. Redlands Blvd., Redlands). In each, it sets up a Christmas tree and table starting the day after Thanksgiving.

Attached to branches of the tree are cards with names of children whose families simply cannot afford to buy gifts, as much as they would love to. Shoppers who want to take part by helping disadvantage children simply pluck a tag off the Sharing Tree, read the child’s name and wish list, then head for the appropriate store for a little sharing of their own.

“Why not start a tradition with your family and select a gift for a needy child together?” Capt. Ball suggested.

The Salvation Army also is looking for other businesses in both San Bernardino and Riverside counties, who would like to have a Sharing Tree at their place for employees and/or customers.

“This is a great way for business owners and managers to help the community this Christmas,” Capt. Ball said.

Families with children in need should have their parents submit their request to their nearest Salvation Army Corps in person.

“Bikes, electronic handheld games and clothes are just a few items on each child’s wish list,” Capt. Ball said. “Shoppers who participate in the program are encouraged to shop for more than just what is needed on the list.”

Salvation Army volunteers make sure the presents are wrapped and earmarked for the specific child. A Sharing Tree participant from last year describes her feelings perfectly: “Last year was my first time to participate in this annual Christmas tradition. Making children’s wishes come true brings me happiness. No matter how big or small the gift, the feeling of making a kid’s Christmas enjoyable is all that matters.”

To help, make a donation or for more information please call The Salvation Army at (888) 725-2769.

About the Salvation Army San Bernardino Corps
The Salvation Army’s emergency services include food; lodging for homeless or displaced families; clothing and furniture; assistance with rent or mortgage and transportation when funds are available. The Salvation Army Team Radio Network assists rescue workers and evacuees in such disasters as fires.

The Salvation Army is an evangelical part of the Universal Christian Church, and also offers evangelical programs for boys, girls and adults. One of the largest charitable and international service organizations in the world, The Salvation Army has been in existence since 1865, and in San Bernardino since 1887, supporting those in need without discrimination. Donations may always be made online at or by calling 1 (800) SAL ARMY.