How long does it take to shop for over 100 Angels from the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program? Stephen Ratcliffe knows the answer.
On Friday, he and about 20 of his friends and family descended on the Walmart on South Tryon Street with more than $14,000 in contributions, ready to shop for children in need. After about 8 hours scouring the aisles for toys and clothing, the group of dedicated volunteers had purchased gifts for over 100 children.
This is the sixth year Ratcliffe has organized the event.
“When we started this, the initial email I sent out over 5 years ago said if you give me the money, I’ll figure out how to find the time to go out and do the shopping,” Ratcliffe said. “This is the fun part. People this year have been so generous.”
Time is valuable for Ratcliffe, a financial planner and father of three. So, he knows that finding the time to shop can be a hindrance for some. He wanted to make it as easy as possible for folks to get involved, and he’s been humbled by how many who have stepped up to help, several of whom have been with him from the beginning.
One of those is Ratcliffe’s mom, Joan. While filling her cart, she tells of how Stephen always had a heart for others.
“It started in sixth grade when Stephen heard a friend was not able to have a Christmas tree,” she said. “Since then, Stephen has had a heart for serving others.”
Stephen and his mom made sure that friend in sixth grade got a Christmas tree. And this year, they are making sure other kids get gifts for under the tree.