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Pictured, from left, are B-UHS counselor Anthony McDaniels, Trumps Salon intern Isabella Ruble, Santa Claus, Trumps Salon owner Rondal Mitchell, Buckhannon mayor Robbie Skinner and Upshur County Schools superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus. / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

Downtown salon hopes to brighten Christmastime for at least 30 teens

BUCKHANNON – The owner of Trumps Salon hopes to help at least 30 families at Christmastime with their annual Angel Tree program.

Rondal Mitchell, owner of Trumps Salon, said their Angel Tree will have compiled a list of names by Black Friday. He explained how the Angel Tree program works.

“The names come from the high school,” Mitchell explained. “We work with the counseling department there and Ms. McCoy, she reaches out to the teachers and then the teachers help select kids they feel are in need, and then they have to get approval from their parents. Once that’s done, they submit the kids to us and we identify them with numbers; we don’t know their name and then we put our cards on the tree.”

Customers can come into the salon, pick a card, and then provide that student with items for Christmas.

“The card lists their gender, their age, their wants and needs,” Mitchell said. “It’s funny because a lot of our clients pick angels for very unique reasons. Sometimes, it’s because all their kids are grown and they may have a grandkid who’s the same age and they say, ‘Oh, I know what to buy for this kid, oh I’ll pick that one,’ or they will say, ‘Oh, I remember when my son or daughter was 16, that’s a great time in their life, so I’ll pick them.”’

The Trumps Salon Angel Tree program specifically helps high school-aged children.

“The idea came to me when my three sons had a teenage friend who lost his father and was displaced from the rest of his family,” Mitchell said. “He really had no place to live and eventually moved in with a relative and didn’t have a family for Christmas other than the relative, but no parents to buy him Christmas presents.”

“I realized there’s probably more kids like that out there, and this was a great way to reach kids in need, because I realized they’re not on angel trees, and they have needs,” he added.

Mitchell decided to focus the Angel Tree initiative on teenagers because they have different needs than younger children.

“They’re not wanting toys and games; they’re wanting things like sheets, pillows, comforters, food cards, gas cards –things that help them survive,” Mitchell said. “It’s a difference between survival needs and wants, as opposed to toys and games.”

Once clients have purchased the gifts, they bring them back to Trumps Salon until Dec. 15, when the school takes the gifts and distributes them.

“The more I do it, the more I realize how much need there is, and this year we’ve expanded our program because I didn’t take into account kids in juvenile detention centers, kids in shelters and kids in placement homes,” Mitchell said. “We’ve expanded our angel tree this year to include cards. We can’t send them gifts, so we have a card system where all of our clients fill out cards and they put words of well wishes, wisdom or advice, and those are sent anonymously to the different placement centers and detention centers in West Virginia.”

Superintendent of Upshur County Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus said she was grateful for the partnership between Trumps Salon and Buckhannon-Upshur High School.

“For a teenager who is lacking during the holidays, it is very different than a younger child. There’s a lot of stigma, there’s a lot of emotion associated with a child who goes without during the holidays — especially during the teenage years,” Stankus said. “To have this kind of partnership with Trumps and Rondal has been amazing. He’s worked with the counselors and his patrons to make a difference for our teens, and that that’s so meaningful and so important, and we just can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done to make this happen and the Trumps customers who have adopted the angels.”

Buckhannon-Upshur High School counselor Anthony McDaniels said programs like angel tree help children experience Christmas.

“I think it’s a huge thing for them because otherwise, these families are left without and unfortunately, the kids are the ones that are suffering,” McDaniels said. “Some of these kids may have never gotten a Christmas until this year, and that’s a huge impact on their lives as a whole.”

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