For many parents in Pulaski County, shopping for Christmas presents is not a possibility. When paying the bills and keeping food on the table absorbs a majority of the family bank account, it's tough to manage extra money to put presents under the tree.

For many parents in Pulaski County, shopping for Christmas presents is not a possibility. When paying the bills and keeping food on the table absorbs a majority of the family bank account, it's tough to manage extra money to put presents under the tree.

Fortunately for many of these families, the Angel Program gives parents the opportunity to give their children a Christmas without having to sacrifice other expenses.

And last week, participating parents were able to shop at the Angel Store, located in the basement of St. Bellarmine Catholic Church. Inside the Angel Store, parents selected from aisles of toys and clothes for children ranging from newborn to teen.

Through the Angel Program, Good Samaritan of the Ozarks collected donations throughout the year in order to fill the shelves of the Angel Store to give children across the county the Christmas they deserve.

This year, the Angel Program provided Christmas gifts to 500 children from 195 families in Pulaski County. Each of the 500 children came from families who either qualify for public assistance or fall within income guidelines.

Volunteers from various organizations throughout the county worked the store last week while parents shopped for their children.

For Carla Yount, the Angel Program gave her the opportunity to give her 4-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter a Christmas they would be proud of — filled with lots of gifts.

“Bills always come first, and I don't want to put my children last,” she said. “It would be hard to get by without this store.”

Angel Program volunteer Buffeye Balk said she has enjoyed working at the store for the past two years.

“Without it, some kids might not have a Christmas at all, and in my mind, that is tragic,” Balk said. “Some parents come in who have not done anything like this before and they actually cry because they didn't know what they were going to do before this.”

Balk said she can see by the amount of people who came into the store that the financial need for help is great. This year wasn't exactly a flourishing economic year in Pulaski County.

Hundreds of family incomes have been hurt by the summer civilian furloughs, the August flood, or the October government shutdown.

“I can’t imagine what it's like to wonder what you'll do for your baby this Christmas,” Balk said. “I've been in that spot before, and I went to a place similar to this.”

Balk said the Angel Program gave her the opportunity to give back to the community.

“It makes my Christmas more meaningful to give back to these families,” she said.

Good Samaritan Development Coordinator Dawn O' Neal said that the success of the program would not be possible without the community support.

“We would like to thank everyone that contributed to the Angel Program this year, whether they volunteered, adopted, donated presents or made monetary donations,” O'Neal said.

“The Angel Program is only successful because of the generosity of this loving community.”