The “Angel Tree” Program is the most relevant Christmas program of the Salvation Army. It was created in 1979 by Majors Charles and Shirley White (now Lieutenant-Coronels) while working in partnership with a shopping center in Virginia during the Christmas season to raise clothing and toys for needed children.
The name of the program comes from the cards that were used to identify the wishes of the children and that had on the back of the card an image of angels. The cards were placed on the Christmas tree of the shopping center so that the people who went there could choose the child they wanted to help.
Thanks to the White couple, over 700 children had a happier Christmas that first year. Three years later the Majors were transferred to Nashville where they launched Angel Tree in Music City. WSM radio became the first sponsor of the project.
Thanks to the Nashville radio promotion, as well as the nationwide publicity conducted by CNN and Larry King Show, the Angel Tree program became known very rapidly throughout the country.