LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Hundreds of children in need will receive a little happiness on Christmas morning, thanks to the support of a long standing community tradition.
Tonight we pay it forward to a faithful volunteer who has spread the joy of Christmas, too many times to count.
For every child on the Angel Tree there’s an army of volunteers watching over it.
“We open up in the morning and we uncover and we’re ready for business,” says Don Steely.
But that hasn’t always been the case.
“They couldn’t get people to volunteer here and they had to hire them. That just doesn’t make sense,” says Steely.
Don Steely has served on the Salvation Army Advisory Board for 25 years. Don and his wife taught 3 year old Sunday School at Trinity United Methodist for 25 years. Works with Kindergarteners at Brady Elementary and also volunteers at the Museum of Discovery.
Don Steely recruited people from his church to help out at the booth in Park Plaza Mall, and he’s been leading the charge ever since.
“I call him the ark angel of the Angel Tree,” says Major Tracey Czajkowski, Salvation Army.
Don shows up before the mall opens and is there for every shift change.
“I’m here every day (laughs) yes,” Steely said.
Seeing a child’s Christmas wash fulfilled never gets old.
“It just makes you feel good. Over and over and over,” Steely said.
“Thousands and thousands of children for the past 22 years have been able to have a Christmas that otherwise would not of been able to have one because of him,” says Czajkowski.
And with hundreds of angles still waiting to be adopted…
“You have an idea why we’re here.” Don “Yes, I do.”
Don thought we brought our camera to do a story about the need.
“On me? Why would you want to do a story on me?” he said.
They aren’t the only ones who think he’s deserving, KARK and McDonalds paid it forward to Don with 250 dollars in Visa gift cards.
“Terrific. What I’ll have to do is buy some things for angels won’t I?” he said.
Fitting for a man who’s favorite way to serve is by bringing a smile to the face of a child in need.
Because there are still so many angels like Joshua waiting to be adopted, the Salvation Army has extended the deadline to Thursday.
The Salvation Army has trees at both Park Plaza and McMain Malls.