MATTOON, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) — The YMCA’s Angel Tree program, a 20-year-old community tradition will continue this year to help give gifts to seniors in the community who need a little extra support during the holidays. 

According to a release from the Mattoon YMCA, both the Toledo and Mattoon locations will be participating in and sponsoring the Angel Trees for this year. Sherri Arnholt, the YMCA Member Engagement Specialist who coordinates the program said the project helps to make the seniors feel more cared for during the holidays.

“This project makes these seniors feel like there are people out there who care for them, which is why I love doing the Angel Trees each year,” Arnholt said.

Those who would like to participate in the program can find Angel trees set up in the lobbies of Mattoon Area Family YMCA and the Neal Center YMCA starting on November 6. The trees will be decorated with ornaments that include the wishlist of a specific senior resident at one of the participating local care facilities. 

The wishlists include gift options ranging from $5 – $20 dollars to make the program affordable for all who would like to participate. Arnholt said the project usually takes no more than two weeks for all of the ornaments to be taken by donors and participants.

The gifts are then returned to the YMCA by December 8 and will be delivered to the seniors from there in time for Christmas. 

“My favorite part is delivering the presents to the care facilities and knowing that what we are doing is going to brighten these seniors’ Christmas because they may not have received anything otherwise,” Arnholt said.

Across Coles, Cumberland, and Clark counties, the YMCA anticipates serving approximately 220 seniors this year. Individuals who are looking to support the Angel Tree program can stop by either YMCA location to pick out an ornament.