PAYING IT FORWARD: FROM ANGEL TREE RECIPIENT TO ANGEL TREE VOLUNTEER
The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program has been a tradition since 1979. For over 40 years, disadvantaged families in Central Maryland received Christmas assistance in the shape of a large, black, trash bag. Inside the bag, is a treasure trove of clothing, shoes, books, hygiene products and toys for children who are in need.
This year, The Salvation Army of Central Maryland provided Christmas assistance to over 1,000 families. This assistance was shared to various Title 1 schools in Baltimore City and in Baltimore county which includes 500 Angel Tree bags for Colgate Elementary School; 400 Angel tree bags for Sandtown-Winchester Academy; 500 Angel Tree bags for Victory Villa Elementary School; and 37 bags for Joseph C. Briscoe School. Each Angel Tree bag was packed by corporate volunteers from Business Volunteers of Maryland and my individual donors who wanted to give back.
April decided this year that she no longer needed Christmas assistance this year. She started a company that gives data entry services to other companies. And her entrepreneurship has taken her to a good place, financially.
April decided to give back as an Angel Tree volunteer this year. Her role and responsibilities were to retrieve bags for Angel Tree clients, sort gifts, and assist other volunteers. This is April’s first time as an Angel Tree volunteer and it may not even be her last. She has always been a go-getter and loves to try new opportunities. She is also considering adopting an a family next year to provide them with angel tree assistance.
“What inspired me to volunteer for Angel Tree this year is kind of a funny story. I missed the deadline and that made me think. Although I was still in need, I knew other families needed more help than me. I saved up enough for my children to have a few gifts this year,” said April.
“There are other kids who needed even greater help. I knew this year I had to help The Salvation Army out as a volunteer to make sure more children were blessed with a Christmas morning.”
April learned, firsthand, that The Salvation Army needs every volunteer to make Angel Tree a working success each year.
“It really gives you a different understanding of what is being done behind the scenes. Miss Samantha goes through the most. She goes through all of the emailing, all of the calling, printing off all applications, ensuring all proper paper work is done, and it's a lot for one person. I really commend her and her team for everything they have done over the years,” noted April.
Before becoming an Angel Tree volunteer, she was previously an Angel Tree recipient of 8 years in the Baltimore area. April is a mom to 5 kids, and has been with her high school sweetheart since 1993. April has juggled multiple jobs such as being an uber drive, working for Amazon Flex, and owning her own transportation company. Once the pandemic hit, April was inspired to lead a more independent life since she had to rely on her own resources to survive. She worked on her credit score, created her own company called Charm City Plug LLC which provides data processing and data entry services to various companies; and taught herself to live independently. In fact, her new credit score helped her qualify for a new apartment or future home.
What truly pushed April into becoming an independent person was by surviving 2016, a year of grief. That was the year she lost her grandfather, her mom, and her oldest sister. She was also pregnant that year and as soon as she gave birth, she vowed to show strength and be a true testament to her children.
“There were times when I felt alone. Because my mom and them, were gone. I had to get over it because I was pregnant and I had my own child to deal with. I had a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby without getting depressed. The grief was literally killing me on the inside but I couldn’t show it, and I had to be strong for my other kids,” said April.
April thanks God for getting her out of the grief and with getting her into a better situation.
“Going through things you go through when you lose the person you love. This gave me more oomph and energy to fight harder, to let my kids know I am here and I am strong, and I will be there for them regardless,” said April.
April vows to grow Charm City Plug, live a more independent lifestyle, and to leave her children a legacy that will nourish them financially, physically, and mentally. She also looks forward to volunteering with The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree in the future and with being an Angel Tree Donor, to give other families the assistance she had during her own hardships.