BAYOU LA BATRE, Ala. (WALA) - The Salvation Army is expanding its Angel Tree effort in southern Mobile County this holiday season. The charity is stepping up to fill a gap left when a group of generous New York firefighters were forced to cancel because of troubles of their own.
You might not think Hurricane Sandy, the storm that devastated the northeast last month, could affect the Christmas season here on the Gulf Coast. But the New York firefighters who have brought in truckloads of presents for needy children in Bayou La Batre each year suffered a major setback because of Sandy.
It left folks in the Bayou scrambling to fill the void. Major Susan Brown said the Salvation Army had planned only one Angel Tree sign up in the Bayou in 2012. Brown said another day was added to ensure no children would be left out.
"The Salvation Army usually takes its applications for the Angel Tree in October so we can get everything out to our corporations and our donors in November. We heard recently the firefighters were not coming down here so we decided that we would do an extra registration day down in south Mobile County, which we are doing today," Brown said.
Community Center Manager Debbie Jones said many others have come through since they learned there would be no gifts from New York this year.
"Through various other places we'll be donating the toys and through chamber members and just local businesses who have elected. We've knocked on doors and said we need help, and we've gotten that help, and we're real excited," Jones said.
It's not just local businesses and groups that have come through to fill the gap left by the New York Firefighters. Jones said Mobile firefighters have promised to help as well.
"It's going to work and we'll be fine, and we'll take donations if folks want to drop them by," Jones said.
Parent Lakeytra Bowie, who recently lost her job, said there are just a few words to describe how she feels about the extra Christmas help.
"I'm grateful for one I'm grateful," Bowie said.
The children registered Tuesday will be added to the Salvation Army's Angel Tree at Bel Air Mall. The agency expects to help around 2,000 children throughout Mobile County.
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