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Pictured, from left, are Trumps Salon stylists April Brown, owner Rondal Mitchell and Katie Morrison. / Photo courtesy Rondal Mitchell

A local salon’s growing angel tree program encouraged clients to send cards to youth in juvenile detention centers in 2021

BUCKHANNON – The Trumps Salon Angel Tree will finish distributing gifts to its angels this week.

Owner of Trumps Salon Rondal Mitchell said the tree helped 30 high school-age teenagers and several families.

“We had a bigger collection of families this year — that was surprising and a little sad, but I have to say, my clients were so eager to help out, and all of our angels were adopted within just a short amount of time,” Mitchell said. “Our tree included siblings. Sometimes it would be two siblings, sometimes it was three, but we had more siblings this year than any other year.”

He said transporting all the presents to the high school took seven or eight truck loads over a three-day period.

“Clients were very generous; they were very concerned about what the kids wanted, and we’ve had a lot of phone calls this year from our clients, asking for advice and asking our opinions about gifts and what they should buy,” Mitchell said. “Our clients were very involved with us this year in buying gifts for these kids, which was really amazing.”

Gifts collected for the angel tree program inside Trumps Salon. / Photo courtesy Rondal Mitchell

This was also the first year non-clients came to the salon to contribute to the angel tree.  

“We had some people walk in, off the street,” Mitchell said. “People saw our original ad in the paper about the tree and they wanted to participate. I would say we had three or four people walk in off the street, which was a first.”

Mitchell hopes to expand the tree to include middle school students in the future.

“Over the next year, I will be looking at contacting some people at the middle school and seeing what their needs are and what we can do to accommodate kids from the middle school that aren’t on other Angel Trees,” Mitchell said. “We also had our angel card program which we hope to expand on next year.”

Mitchell asked his clients to write letters to children in juvenile detention facilities in an effort to brighten their holiday seasons.

“We realized there’s also kids in placement and juvenile detention who have a strong need because they get nothing,” Mitchell said. “I found out that in a lot of the juvenile detentions and placements don’t celebrate any kind of holiday, they don’t really make an acknowledgement of it. Facilities like this, I found out, tend to be very punitive and it’s more based on punishments than it is on love.”

The theme of the angel tree cards was ‘love,’ so each card featured a message involving love.

“I asked my clients to write cards, to give the kids advice, words of hope, inspiration, many wrote scriptures,” Mitchell said. “I read some of these cards and was so moved they brought me to tears. Some of the words of wisdom that these clients wrote were really amazing and spirit-filled. I asked all of them to use the word love somewhere — either ‘you’re loved,’ ‘I love you,’ or ‘God loves you’ because that was our theme, because that’s what kids don’t hear.”

Trumps Salon sent out several hundred cards, and one facility said they were happy to receive the letters.

“I did hear back from one, and they were thrilled. I don’t know if we’ll hear back from the others and that’s fine if they don’t [reply], but I was glad to know that at least one of them was thrilled to get the letters,” Mitchell said. “That made me feel like the whole program was worthwhile.”

Mitchell said their angel tree program is geared toward teenagers because most angel trees benefit younger children.

“I keep doing it because I just feel there are so many kids that are in need and so many young kids are looked after so wonderfully by the community, but there are so many older kids that got left out,” Mitchell said. “Seeing my own teenage sons seeing some of their friends struggle, and getting no help, it just made me realize that age group is so important because they’re becoming who they are. But when kids are in detentions, and they’re left with no hope, then they will leave detention, thinking there’s no hope.”

“To think that a young adult would think there’s no hope is beyond what I can imagine, so I want people to know that people in this world do care,” he added.

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