The MUSC Angel Tree Parade caps a fundraising effort that will help more than 1,500 children this holiday season
This year’s Angel Tree Parade at the Medical University of South Carolina ended with a sea of bright blue uniforms as the High-Steppin’ Bulldogs from Burke High School performed on the MUSC Horseshoe. Band director Linard McCloud said a few hours away from school can still be a learning experience at an event like this.
“I hope they see this is all about giving. You might be down on your luck, but the support you get from folks makes it better. You’re not alone.”
That message, “You’re not alone,” is at the heart of the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program, a national effort that works to ensure about a million children who would otherwise go without receive new clothes and toys for the holidays.
Liz Williams, who has led the MUSC Angel Tree effort for 14 years and is stepping down after this year, said the local program has a big impact in the Lowcountry. “About 2,000 children signed up, and MUSC took care of 1,500 of them. There were hundreds of dollars in donations that will take care of a lot of others.”
Salvation Army Captain Jason Burns called the outpouring of donations incredible. “The way Charleston has embraced the Salvation Army and our programs is really humbling and honoring. It’s a testament to the spirit of people here as they do that.”
One boy’s spirit was on display during the parade: pediatric parade marshal David Romero-Salas. The 9-year-old boy from Anderson County, South Carolina had a bone marrow transplant 10 months ago to treat his acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He and some family members sat in the front of a College of Nursing float. It felt, David said, “like you’re the king of the world.”
The Burke High School Band has been part of the parade for a year longer than David has been alive, and its director said there’s a simple reason for that. “This is a great cause. It’s always on the calendar.”