Salvation Army displays the spirit of giving in Mitchell

Angel Tree project delivers gifts, food during holiday season

Jay Johnson shares a laugh with Salvation Army volunteers Saturday morning in Mitchell. The organization was giving away toys, clothing and food throughout the day as part of its annual Angel Tree program. (Erik Kaufman / Republic)

Christmas is a time of giving.

That giving spirit was on full display Saturday as volunteers at the Salvation Army in Mitchell passed out toys, clothing and food to visitors at their headquarters on Sanborn Boulevard.

“The community has just been so supportive. It’s been going very well,” said Bill Middendorp, co-captain of the Mitchell Salvation Army.

The program provides new clothing and toys for children of families in need through the support of local community members, businesses and organizations. Angel Trees, decorated with numbered paper tags that have the first name, age and gender of a child in need of gifts, are placed at various locations around the community, and contributors remove one or more tags from the tree and purchase appropriate gifts for the child on the tag.

Volunteers were also giving away food and other household items throughout the day. Packages of donations were categorized by family size, and families passed through as workers loaded shopping carts with the gifts.


Jay Johnson, who was picking up some donations with his girlfriend Sara Tackett, said the Salvation Army and its programs has been incredibly supportive to people who need a hand. He said many people likely don’t know just how much good the group does in the community.

“We come every year. It’s awesome. They help a lot of people out,” Johnson said.

The volunteers and those who utilize its services have come to make the Salvation Army in Mitchell a small community that almost feels more like family,” Johnson said.

“The people who work here are very helpful, very kind,” Johnson said. “You see people gathering around and talking.”

Middendorp said as busy as the group was Saturday, they still had work to do before the end of the year. The Salvation Army was making sure the children of inmates at Davison County Jail would be receiving toys and that the inmates themselves would receive a Christmas Eve meal from the organization.

Middendorp said such projects would not be possible without the generosity of people in the Mitchell community. The organization is still about $8,000 short of its $38,000 fundraising goal for the year, he said, but there was still work to be done. He said local firefighters were downtown ringing bells and seeking donations in order to help reach the goal.

Every little bit helps, he said, especially after a rough year like 2019.

“With the flood this year, the needs are higher. More people are coming in for rental assistance and our other programs,” Mittendorp said.


Those interested in volunteering or donating to the Mitchell Salvation Army can call 605-996-2558.

Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at
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