TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) — The Salvation Army of Johnson City’s 2023 Angel Tree applications opened on Friday, which provides children in Washington, Carter and Unicoi counties with Christmas gifts during the holiday season.

The Angel Tree program has been providing families in financial need with Christmas gifts for years. Once a child up to 15 years of age has been registered and accepted as an “angel” with the Salvation Army, their Christmas wish list is shared with community donors, who purchase gifts of clothing and toys for them. The gifts are then distributed to the families to place under their Christmas trees.

Captain of Johnson City’s Salvation Army Beny Carringer said they opened applications for the Angel Tree early this year partly because they expect high demand this holiday season.

“A lot of our programs are seeing an increase, and so as we prepare for our Angel Tree season this Christmas, we’re probably looking at an increase in that as well,” he told News Channel 11.

Carringer said they’re opening the program early “just to give us a better [idea] of what we need to do to make sure we’re serving all of those [angels].”

He called the hustle and stress of getting everything ready “overwhelming,” but “when you’re seeing the families come and get those gifts and the families smile and the parents are excited that their children are going to have something to open on Christmas morning, all the heartache and the heartbreak and the hustle and bustle just goes away and you’re excited to know that you’ve made a difference for someone in this community the Christmas season.”

Carringer said last year, the program worked to help more than 1,500 angels, even being able to assist those new in town or who submitted late applications. He went on to say those wishing to apply to be an angel should contact the Salvation Army of Johnson City as soon as possible, as applications are open now to Sept. 30.

“Call now, call early,” Carringer said. “The more that we can get adopted before we get them on the trees, the more that we can continue to help this Christmas season.”

The Salvation Army collects information about applicants to determine their needs and eligibility for the program. The Angel Tree program’s website said some information needed includes proof of residence, photo ID, birth certificate, shoe and clothing sizes and a toy wish.

Carringer said those interested in applying can message the Salvation Army of Johnson City on Facebook, but the most efficient way to get ahold of someone is by calling them at 423-926-2101 and leaving a message if necessary.