KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- For the past eight years, the Department of Children's Services' Volunteer Advisory Board has held an Angel Tree program, with help from corporate sponsors. But this year, the program needs more help than ever because it lost three of its sponsors.
"One of our sponsors we lost actually purchased about a thousand toys that we could just divide among kids. And then one of our sponsors sponsored about 50 children. The other sponsored about 30 children," said Carren Pirtle-Broadnax, with DCS.
Pirtle-Broadnax said the number of children in state custody increased by 250 this year, increasing the number of foster families needing help from the Angel Tree program.
Robert Rutherford is a DCS foster parent who relies on the program each holiday season.
"When you have your own children, you don't always have the additional resources to provide the sort of Christmas that you'd like to provide for the child in your home, so this is a great matter of help that we're so appreciative to the community for," said Rutherford.
DCS doesn't have an Angel Tree with tags set up, but it does have a list of over 400 kids in need of help for the holidays. Each child gets three wishes.
"A lot of times they will ask for things that they would like to have, such as basic things - shoes, clothes or a toy - some kids, older kids, an MP3 or something," said Pirtle-Broadnax.
She said she's hopeful more people will become Angel Tree sponsors, so all the kids' wishes come true.
To sponsor a child or find out how you can donate money to the program, you can call DCS at (865) 329-8879.
Pirtle-Broadnax said all presents should be dropped off to DCS by December 14.
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