TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - While the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree in Tyler has been all taken care of this year, the inaugural angel tree at the Watkins-Logan State Veterans home still has plenty of names on it.
“Every year I see the angel trees all over Tyler, for the kids, foster kids, things of that nature and it had me thinking why don’t we do this for our veterans,” said Christina Randolph, the director of activities at Watkins-Logan. “I spoke to some of our vets out there and they said that would be a fabulous idea that would brighten their Christmas up.”
A tree covered in envelopes, handmade by the veterans themselves, contains their Christmas wish lists, but the gifts they’re hoping for might not be what you think.
“Mine is simple,” said Ronald Wilson, a Vietnam veteran who lives at Watkins-Logan. “I’d like to converse with people and get to know them and find a new friend. If I can do that through the tree, I’m all for it.”
Jessica Medcalf, the on-site representative for the Veterans Land Board at Watkins-Logan, said they’re hoping folks don’t just drop off the gifts they purchase.
“We encourage folks to come by and deliver the gifts to that veteran, meet them, hear their story, talk to them get that thank you,” said Medcalf. “It’s really important for our veterans to thank the person who is giving them these gifts.”
Those who created the tree said it’s goal is to remind the veterans they haven’t been forgotten.
“That was my ultimate goal for this, to let them know they haven’t been left behind or forgotten; East Texas knows you’re here,” said Randolph. “This was a good way for me to let the community know we have guys that want to meet you.”
Wilson said the concept of the tree has those living at Watkins-Logan very excited.
“It’s tough, especially if you don’t have any family, I’m fortunate that I’ve lived this long but I’ve outlived my family,” said Wilson. “So, this time of year, you’re looking for something to make you feel good and that does it. I would hope that somebody sees this and they think well, I can do that, I can go out there and be friends.”
Medcalf, Randolph and Wilson all mentioned their hope that this tree will bring community members and the veterans together and encourage those in the community to volunteer their time — even for one hour a month — to sit with the veterans and get to know them.
Some common items asked for by veterans include: bath towels, body wash, toothbrushes, tooth paste, deodorant, gloves, hats, ear-muffs, sweaters, sweatpants, audio-books, snacks (savory and sweet).
To fulfill a veteran’s Christmas wish list:
- Go to Watkins-Logan and pick out an envelope on the tree at 11466 Honor Lane, Tyler, TX 75708
- Call Christina Randolph, activities director for Watkins-Logan, at 903-617-6150
- Email Christina at email@example.com