MUSC adopts more than half of Salvation Army's local 'angels'

December 07, 2021
MUSC pharmacy resident Amelia Slane drops off bags of gifts for the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program.
Pharmacy resident Amelia Slane drops off gifts for two babies that her group picked from the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. Photos by Carter Coyle

Amelia Slane, philanthropy chair for the pharmacy residency program at the Medical University of South Carolina, dropped off big bags of gifts for two babies she’ll never meet — but has thought a lot about.

“I think it’s awesome,” she said of the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. MUSC is its biggest participant in the Charleston area, with employees buying gifts for 1,200 boys and girls this year.

People load bags of Angel Tree gifts into a Salvation Army Truck in front of an MUSC Health building. 
"Chief Elf" Melissa Kubu, second from left in a blue mask, helps sort bags before they're loaded into a Salvation Army truck. It's a team effort, with people from multiple departments at MUSC assisting.

“It feels like a special gift we can give somebody else, when we maybe already have a lot of the things we want. It’s just so touching to see some of the things that they ask for. So it was really exciting to go shopping for them and try to come up with things that I think they would like,” Slane said.

She had plenty of company. “Chief Elf” Melissa Kubu, leader of MUSC’s Angel Tree effort, said donations were up this year percentage-wise. “We really knocked it out of the park.”

Small red tricycle on a pile of other bagged gifts. 
A tiny tricycle sits atop a pile of bagged gifts.

Kubu got emotional describing what it was like to see all of the gifts piled up in MUSC’s Horseshoe, ready to be delivered to the North Charleston Coliseum for sorting. “MUSC is a really big family that cares so much about our community no matter what the circumstances, and even in a pandemic we can come together and provide for our children and the community that are in so much need. Our children really need some happiness and some love. So MUSC is able to provide that and really just be there for those who need us most,” Kubu said.

Mike and Cathy Michels, captains with the Salvation Army, were on hand at MUSC for delivery day. “It just warms my heart to see the gifts being given even by people who are having a hard time but are willing to step up and give. That means a lot to us. It really does,” Cathy Michels said.

Her husband and fellow captain said this year has been easier than last year was. The second winter holiday season of the pandemic finds people functioning more normally. “Our volunteer kettle workers are back in force and our volunteers here at MUSC and at the convention center; we’re getting a lot more volunteers this year and yes, we see people adopting kids. We’re really excited.”

Volunteers and employees from MUSC and the Salvation Army gather behind bags of donated gifts. 
Volunteers and employees of MUSC and the Salvation Army gather behind a pile of donated gifts.

Delivery day involved the help of people from multiple departments at MUSC, including Public Safety and Facilities. Emergency Management coordinator Bryan Wood said they look forward to it. “We love this time of year. Usually we have the Angel Tree parade and we love it.”

No parade was held this year because of the pandemic. Wood hopes it will be back in 2022.

Kubu does, too. But she’s glad the most important part of the Angel Tree program, collecting gifts for children whose families are struggling, is still taking place. “This is the largest project MUSC does for the outside community. So to be able to do that and see the sea of love and happiness here is amazing.”

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About the Author

Helen Adams

Keywords: Features, Pediatrics