ATHENS, GA– Cheyenne Payne is your typical three-year old girl. She loves to sing, read books, and play dress-up….and just like many other three-year olds, she has a Christmas wish list for Santa. It includes a baby doll and a diaper bag.

Her parents Kevin and Amber Payne both have full time jobs, but a dollar does not go far when you are not only taking care of your child but helping out your disabled parents as well. Christmas is Cheyenne’s favorite Holiday, and her parents hope that she will have a memorable Christmas without them having to break the bank.

This led the Paynes to sign up for the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree, a gift donation program for families in need. They now know that Santa will be coming down their chimney this Christmas with surprises for their hopeful little girl.

Kevin says, “We didn’t know if she was going to have a Christmas or not, but then the Salvation Army came to our rescue.”

Every year, the Salvation Army teams up with donors in the community to collect gifts for every family that signs up for the Angel Tree program. After a registration process in the fall, families like the Paynes come and receive gift donations that are gender and age appropriate for their kids come December.

Captain Jonathan Raymer, Officer and Director of the Salvation Army in Athens, Georgia says that when he sees the gratitude in parents’ faces, he is overcome with joy. He describes, “My favorite moments are when I get the chance of giving the bag full of stuff that donors have bought and taken their time to pick these things out and handing them to the mother….and she just weeps.”

Kevin Payne knows that exact feeling of gratitude beyond words. He remembers that past Christmases without the Salvation Army’s help have been difficult because popular gifts do not come with a cheap price tag. He says, “Your daughter runs into the store saying, “Oh I want this for Christmas!” but you can’t buy it….it kind of hurts.”

This year, the Payne family’s Christmas will be filled with laughter instead of worry, a welcomed change. Kevin and Amber look forward to seeing Cheyenne’s face light up on Christmas morning.

*If you are interested in donating to the Angel Tree program, drop by your local Salvation Army or e-mail Jonathan Raymer at

Joy Lee, Grady NewSource

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