As part of the AAE CARES community support initiative, All American Entertainment employees partnered with The Salvation Army and SunTrust Bank to make the winter holidays a happier time for local Durham families. Led by our dedicated AAE CARES committee, we decided to set up an Angel Tree to brighten up the holiday season.

AAE CARES: Flyer for the Angel Tree Project

The Angel Tree Project

The Angel Tree project aims to provide children of low-income families with clothing, toys, and other necessities. The special holiday tree was set up in the lobby of Sun Trust Bank at Sutton Station, AAE’s downstairs neighbor.

Besides the usual festive ornaments and decorations, this tree was decked out with “Angel Tags”. Each tag corresponded to a specific child in the community, and specified the child’s age, gender, clothing and shoe size. Naturally, it also included a toy wish list.

AAE employees, bank visitors, and other generous participants were invited to pick an Angel Tag, and purchase some or all of the items on the child’s wish list. Some participants even took two or three!

AAE's Angel Tree

The Angel Tree ensures a positive experience for the child and takes some financial stress off of the family at a time that can be particularly difficult for parents with little money to spare for Christmas presents.

AAE CARES: Angel Tree 2017

AAE Logistics Manager Lisabeth Kane was in charge of coordinating with the Salvation Army, and ensured that the Angel Tree project was a success. This was AAE’s first Angel Tree, but it will surely not be the last.

Volunteers Distributing the Gifts
AAE’s Lisabeth and Anna checking the distribution lists

In addition to adopting angels of their own, the AAE team members helped wrap donated gifts, delivering them to the Salvation Army, and distributing them to families in need.

For the first time in the history of the Angel Tree Initiative, the Salvation Army was able to give every child in the Durham program a bicycle for Christmas. If a child’s sponsor was not able to spring for a brand new bike, the Salvation Army’s matching donation had them all covered. On the two days the gifts were given out, the old Walmart building used as a distribution headquarters was packed with rows of bikes, both big and small.

Stocking Stuffers & Extra Gifts

Volunteers filling bags with stocking stuffers
Volunteers filling big bags with stocking stuffers

Also good to see were the countless boxes overflowing with stocking stuffers and extra clothes. While some volunteers checked off items on the list, others made sure every child would be given enough gifts. Additional volunteers were tasked with making sure every item found its way to the correct family.

Happy Holidays for 600+ children

Overall, the Durham Salvation Army was able to help 240 families this season, many of whom with several children. Of those families, the presents collected by AAE’s Angel Tree accounted for 80 children in the community.

AAE CARES: Creating Positive Change

AAE CARES is All American Entertainment’s charitable endeavor, dedicated to empowering established community groups though resource support and outreach efforts. The committee organizes different volunteer activities throughout the year, with the winter holidays being a particularly busy time. In addition to facilitating the Angel Tree for the Salvation Army, AAE employees spent two days volunteering at the Special Olympics Basketball Tournament, working with elementary, middle, and high school student athletes. Earlier in 2017, AAE threw a Summer Carnival for The Boys and Girls Club of Durham and Orange Counties, and supported the kids going back to school with a school supply drive.

Volunteers get ready to distribute gifts