Salvation Army in Roanoke sees fewer Angel Tree kids after new rules

Program does not allow double-dipping, has a three-year limit for families.

ROANOKE, Va. – The Salvation Army Angel Tree program gives thousands of kids a better Christmas every year. But here in the Roanoke Valley, this year is a little different -- about 900 fewer kids are being served. Capt. Monica Seiler is crediting the decline to stricter requirements for the program. 

"We expect to see less people, we expect to see less families, and we're okay with that because we'll be able to work with those families, and be more invested with them and the resources we have long term," said Seiler.

This year, Angel Tree recipients cannot double dip from other giveaway programs. There is also a three-year limit for families and a required financial and family management class. 

"The Salvation Army wants to be able to see those who are interested in changing their situation because we believe in hope and we believe that the cycle of poverty can be changed and it doesn't need to be a multi-generational thing," said Seiler.

Seiler said the stricter rules are not about discouraging parents from asking for help. The goal is to actually encourage families to find the path to a more financially stable future with the nonprofit's help. 

"The goal is that in the future those who are in the Angel Tree will become donors and walk with those who are struggling during their time of need," said Seiler.

For now, the new regulations are expected to be in place for many Christmases to come.

The Angel Trees will be out at area malls around Thanksgiving, and this year, there will be an Angel Tree website where you can find kids' wishes.