Toys for Tots & Angel Tree 2020: How to Give Gifts, or Get Gifts, this Christmas in Ingham County

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Angel Tree & Toys for Tots Christmas Toy Drives are Still Happening in 2020

Like just about everything this year, Christmastime toy drives are going to look a little different for 2020.

Thankfully, two great national programs that let you get involved in your community, Angel Tree (Salvation Army Corps) and Toys for Tots (the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve ) have adapted their programs to fit social distancing and safety guidelines. This means that the programs will be to continue this year, unlike FATE, which has had to call off operations for 2020.

Likely, there will be more families than usual looking for help and needing assistance. Hopefully, the community will be able to meet the need.

This article focused on Ingham County but assistance and participation are available throughout Michigan.

Those asking for assistance will be asked to demonstrate proof of residence, show children’s birth certificates & personal ID, verify income, and pledge that they have not signed up for toys at any other organization.


What is the Angel Tree Toy Drive?

The Angel Tree Toy Drive is an annual nationwide Christmas event spearheaded by the Salvation Army’s community centers across the country. This program provides Christmas gifts to thousands and thousands of children across the country each year.

Families register with Angel Tree, indicating the ages and wish list items for their children. This wish list is then shared with community members, who purchase gifts for these families.

In Mid-Michigan, 20 different locations partner with Salvation Army Corps Community Centers to bring Angel Tree to our area.

Each Angel Tree program is independently run by the Salvation Army Community Center in that Mid-Michigan county.

Participation and instructions for each county’s Angel Tree program are different. This article focuses on Lansing / Ingham County’s Angel Tree program. To get involved with any other Michigan counties, reach out to the local Salvation Army or Angel Tree contact listed here.

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Ways You Can Help With the Angel Tree Toy Drive

1) Host an Angel Tree

Volunteer to collect gifts at your business, church, school, office, or organization.

You can sign up to host an Angel Tree between October 2 to November 15, 2020 by calling (517) 482-9715.  (The Toy Drive runs through mid-December.)

Once you submit your organization’s registration form, your local Angel Tree contact person will be in touch and will get your tags delivered to you within a week of signing up.

After you have your tags, it will be up to you to distribute them by setting up a Christmas tree at your location.  You’ll collect new, unwrapped toys and gifts at your location and ultimately transport the toys to a designated Salvation Army collection site.

2) Give to Angel Tree

  • STEP 1: Find a participating Angel Tree location (the Angel Tree map will be updated starting on Friday, November 8, 2020).
  • STEP 2: Choose a tag from their Angel Tree.
  • STEP 3: Purchase an appropriate gift.
  • STEP 4: Return unwrapped gift to any of the participating Angel Tree locations in Mid-Michigan by mid-December


Make an Angel Tree Donation. Angel Tree Donations are used to buy $20 teen Christmas Gift Cards, put toward food assistance, or used to purchase toys for children.

How to Get Christmas Assistance from the Angel Tree

Applications for assistance for Ingham County residents is open from through December 4, 2020.

You may get information at neighborhood food pantries or call the United Way hotline at 1-800-887-1107. You may also fill out an application online.

Changes for 2020

Please note that COVID has required changes to the process for 2020.

In the past, recipients have been invited to open shopping for gifts. This year, open shopping is not possible.

Instead, toys chosen by volunteers will be handed out based on a child’s wish list suggestions and the child’s age.

Parents are asked to do their best to put suggestions on the child’s wish list that will help the volunteers find a good match for your child, knowing that specific items can’t be guaranteed and there will be no exchanging of toys.

Those receiving Christmas assistance from the Salvation Army will receive:

  • a gift card to help with the purchase of Christmas dinner
  • one large and one small toy for each child ages 0 to 11
  • a gift card to purchase gifts for each child ages 12-16


What is Toys for Tots?

The U.S. Marine Corp Reserves Toys for Tots program is an annual, national toy drive that collects and distributes toys to less fortunate children at Christmastime.

WZZM is the local media sponsor for Toys for Tots, helping spread the word about the toy drive.

While Toys for Tots is a national program, this article focuses on Ingham County in Michigan. If you are looking for a different Toys for Tots program, the national website is the starting point to find one of our nearly 800 Toys for Tots campaign sites.  Navigate to the menu option “Donate a Toy,” select your state, then the city/county. If the city/county is covered, clicking on that location will take you to a local Toys for Tots website.

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Ways You Can Help With Toys for Tots

1) Volunteer

If you want to Volunteer email your name and contact information to

2) Make a Donation Online or by Check

Online donations are via Paypal or Credit Card.

3) Become a Toy Drop Off Site

Boxes are delivered around the end of October and will be picked up in mid-December.

Collection sponsors should provide a collection receptacle for the toy collection if Toys for Tots Collection Boxes are not being requested.

Here’s the link to sign up to become a drop off site.

4) Drop off a Toy Donation at a Drop Site

Drop sites are located across Ingham County at local businesses, some libraries, and some fire stations.

Click here to see a list of donation drop sites.

How to Get Christmas Assistance from Toys for Tots

Applications for assistance for Ingham County residents is open through December 1, 2020.

All applications will be taken online this year.

The date of toy distribution is December 19, 2020. Approved applicants will be notified of specific distribution dates and locations. Check the Toys for Tots website for additional distribution details.

Changes for 2020

Please note that COVID has required changes to the process for 2020.

In the past, recipients have been invited to open shopping for gifts. This year, open shopping is not possible.

Instead, toys chosen by volunteers will be handed out based on a child’s general interests and the child’s age. Parents are asked NOT to list specific toy requests.

There will be no exchanging of toys and there is no guarantee that a specific toy will be provided.

Thank you for being a part of the community and doing what you can to make it a great place to be!

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