LA CROSSE, Wis. -

The La Crosse Salvation Army is kicking off this year’s Angel Giving Tree program on Thursday, November 15.

The program, which matches children in need with area sponsors, will begin with the lighting of the Angel Giving Tree in the center of Valley View Mall at 10 a.m. More than 500 local families in need have signed up for the program this year.

At the end of the kickoff ceremony, people interested in sponsoring a child will be invited to take an Angel tag from the tree. It has basic information about the child they are sponsoring, the size of clothing worn and any special Christmas requests.

Sponsors are asked to buy and return their gifts, which should not be wrapped, either to the tree at Valley View Mall or to The Salvation Army office, 223 N. 8th Street in La Crosse. Gifts must be bought and returned by December 17.