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As deadline approaches, 1600 kids remain without a sponsor in Salvation Army's Angel Tree program
UPDATE: As of 3 p.m. Monday, 844 children still need to be adopted by Wednesday's deadline.
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BATON ROUGE - More than half of the children participating in this year's Angel Tree program with The Salvation Army of Baton Rouge have not yet been adopted by donors, as the organization sees increased levels of demand for assistance.
"We've been through a hurricane, we've been through a pandemic, the economy's not what we would want it to be," Major Donald Tekautz said. "So, we're just helping more families. We're helping families, now, that we've never helped in the past."
In 2020, The Salvation Army of Greater Baton Rouge served 2,500 children and 900 families. This year, more than 3,000 kids and 1,100 families are relying on the generosity of others to make Christmas happen.
Recently, Tekautz says the only time those figures were rivaled was in 2016, months after the great flood.
1,600 kids have not yet been adopted or sponsored, Tekautz says, adding the organization has never failed to fulfill every child's needs.
"Definitely scary," Tekautz said. "It is still a lot of children that we need to adopt, in a very short amount of time for us to be ready for those gifts to be distributed to the families before Christmas."
Tekautz believes there are a few reasons why so many children are left waiting this year. Many big corporations that usually select a large batch of kids aren't doing so this year. Others who typically donate find themselves trying to provide for their own family this year.
As Louisiana has faced several emergencies and natural disasters in recent memory, Tekautz says people are experiencing 'donor fatigue.'
"That's always been my fear going into this Christmas, that in the last couple years we've been asking a lot," Tekautz said. "Because the need is a lot."
With so many children left to be sponsored, the deadline to adopt a child has been extended through Wednesday.
Even with time running out, Tekautz believes the community will come to the rescue once more with a Christmas miracle.
"I'm confident of that," Tekautz said. "I've seen them do it in the past. Are these numbers big? They are. But this is also a very giving, generous community. When they see the need, they're often very willing to step forward."
All adoptions are online this year. To sponsor a child, click here.
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