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Santa Claus encourages you to adopt a teenager in need to assist Trumps Salon with its annual Angel Tree and Angel Card Writing programs. / (Photo by Monica Zalaznik)

Local salon focuses Angel Tree efforts on often-forgotten high school students in need

BUCKHANNON – Trumps Salon is looking to help 44 high schoolers with its annual Angel Tree initiative.

2023 marks the eighth year Trumps Salon has organized its Angel Tree, designed to help teenagers have a better holiday season.

Rondal Mitchell, the salon owner, said he began the tree after discovering there weren’t many programs aimed at providing comfort and care to teens during the holidays.

“So, I shifted focus onto high school kids,” he recounted. “After doing some research and talking to people at the high school, I found out that there were high school kids with a lot of needs.”

“We began with a regular Angel Tree, working for younger kids, but during our second year, my sons had a friend who lost a parent, became displaced and did not have a Christmas because he was not in his home,” Mitchell said. “That got me thinking, ‘What about high school kids that don’t have parents or don’t have a solid place to live?’”

Mitchell also found that older kids had different needs and often required necessities.

Pictured, from left, are WVWC student Nick Evans, Santa Claus, Trumps Salon owner Rondal Mitchell, stylist Katie Morrison, stylist April Jeffries and WVWC Service Scholar Danica Propst. / (Photo by Monica Zalaznik)

“Even this year, they ask for hygiene items, bedding items, blankets, pillows, sheets, shoes and coats,” Mitchell said. “Very rarely do we get a request for a toy of any kind; sometimes they ask for those adult coloring books, but other than that, it’s gas cards, it’s phone cards, it’s necessities – things they need to help them live their life.”

The tree has 44 angels, and some include families, in case the high schooler has a younger sibling.

“We get families because some kids in high school have siblings, and we don’t want to leave them out, so we take all of them,” Mitchell said. “For people who want to participate and be a part of our program, they can reach out to us directly here at the salon, or they can come by.”

“We have a list, so they can ask any of us here to pick an angel, or people can also donate because it’s not just about the angel itself; we also take that money and we buy easily edible food,” he added. “We buy ramen noodles, we buy Pop Tarts, we buy things kids can eat throughout the holidays.”

Mitchell has utilized interns from West Virginia Wesleyan College to help orchestrate the Angel Tree program. This year, Wesleyan junior and intern Danica Propst to help expand their Angel Card program this year.

“Our angel cards go to the children who are unfortunately incarcerated in the juvenile system because they don’t get a Christmas, they don’t do Christmases, they don’t acknowledge the holiday, but they do allow the kids to get cards when we send them out,” Mitchell said. “Danica has facilitated a group of students at Wesleyan who are taking over that whole card-writing program, which is really exciting, but I also encourage clients to write a Christmas card.”

Propst said she took on the internship to get experience and help with a worthwhile cause.

“I took over the internship this year to get some marketing experience – to get some experience in my field – and it has been a super beneficial learning experience for me,” Propst said. “It’s such a good community service outreach for the kids because high school students at this time of the year are usually considered adults.”

“There’s always angel trees for children who are younger, but there’s never any for older children, and they’re still children; they’re not on their own completely, so they still need to feel that love and support from the community to help them transition to adulthood,” she added.

Propst said she is utilizing WVWC’s resources to write and send more angel letters than ever.

“Our goal is 400 to 500 cards this year, and even though cards may not seem like a lot, it is for youth who aren’t getting anything – a card might just make their whole week,” Propst said. “I’m working with the Community Center for Engagement at West Virginia Wesleyan, which has a service team, and they are really helping me with the card-writing process, bouncing ideas off of them and I’m also working to get Campus Life involved.”

A card-writing holiday party will also take place Nov. 27 at the Benedum Campus Center.

“This is open to anyone from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and there will be a hot chocolate bar and festive music, so it’s going to be a party, but also writing these cards and doing something important for the community,” Propst said. “The service team has been so helpful with supporting this project and helping me bounce ideas off of them; they’ve just been really great to work with.”

Anyone wishing to contact Trumps Salon to assist with the Angel Tree project may call 304-473-0500, email trumps@trumpsalon.biz or stop by the salon at 7 West Main Street in Buckhannon.

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