GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Salvation Army of Kalamazoo is once again looking to make Christmas brighter for families in need.

The annual Angel Tree program, which has been running for over 40 years, is now underway and runs through Dec. 9. Individuals, as well as businesses, churches, schools, and other organizations can sign up to be Angel Tree hosts.

The toys that are collected this year will be distributed during the Salvation Army’s Toy Shop event on Dec. 14-16 at the Salvation Army Community Center in Kalamazoo.

“Working the toy shop is one of my absolute favorite things of the year,” said Steve Dykstra, development director of Salvation Army Kalamazoo Citadel Corps. “You know we do a ton of wonderful things at the Salvation Army but the toy shop is just special.

He said they set up appointments for people to come in and shop for their children in secret so that the gifts are surprises.

“Often our clients come in and you can just see the stress. The worry. The fear of not being able to provide their children presents. We set them up with a shopper and we go around, and they shop and pick up toys for all the children on their list and by the time that they leave, I have yet to see a person leave without the biggest smile, without tears. It’s not uncommon that people cry because they’re able to provide their children with a Christmas that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to,” said Dykstra.

Toys are being collected through Dec. 9. You can find more information on how to donate and participate at the Salvation Army website.