JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – On Monday, the first Angel Tree of the holiday season was set up at The Mall at Johnson City.

The Angel Tree aims to help children and families in need by providing them with new clothes, toys and other gifts. This year, the number of registered angels is the highest in years, the Salvation Army reports.

“In the Tri-Cities area, we have over 3,400 angels that we’ll be providing Christmas for between Johnson City, Kingsport and Bristol,” said Captain Benny Carringer, Corps Officer for the Salvation Army of Johnson City. “That’s almost 2,000 families that we’re going to be assisting, and then that’s just the gift portion.”

Carringer said the motivation behind setting up the tree early is to help tackle the need throughout the city.

“We need to get out there a little earlier because we have more kids to adopt, which gives you more opportunity,” Carringer said.

Carringer told News Channel 11 that in Johnson City, the need for holiday assistance increased by 5%, while the need throughout the Tri-Cities saw an 8-10% increase.

Carringer said that although they are unable to pinpoint where the increase is coming from, the Salvation Army is stepping up to help meet the need.

“As the Salvation Army we are saying, ‘you know what, we see the need,'” Carringer said. “‘We’re hearing the need, we’re feeling that increase. Let’s get out, let’s do something about it. Let’s make sure that we’re able to provide for those children.'”

Carringer and his wife, Crystal, have served with the Salvation Army for 13 years. He said his own personal history helps him to understand how important it is to meet that need.

“My wife and I are both Angel Tree recipients,” Carringer said. “Now that we’re on the other side of that, you see the importance that you’ve made in making sure that those children are going to have the best Christmas ever.”

By Nov. 18, Walmart stores throughout the Tri-Cities will have their own trees set up. The trees can be found at these locations:

  • Abingdon
    • 16032 Fifteen Mile Boulevard
  • Bristol, Tenn.
    • 220 Century Boulevard
  • Bristol, Va.
    • 13245 Lee Highway
  • Johnson City
    • 2915 West Market Street
    • 3111 Browns Mill Road
  • Elizabethton
    • 1001 Over Mountain Drive
  • Kingsport
    • 3200 Fort Henry Drive
    • 2500 West Stone Drive
  • Rogersville
    • 4331 Highway 66 South