Digital Hope and Love for Christmas Angels

In a year of a pandemic, new challenges rose to the challenge for a young Salvation Army in Romania and its Angel Tree Campaign. Limiting contact with each other, meeting an increasing need for assistance and decreases in giving due to the overwhelming uncertainty week to week, we had our 5 major goals for Angel Tree 2020:

  1. Build a virtual platform solution.
  2. Increase brand and campaign awareness to the public.
  3. Create an internal Angel Tree database of records.
  4. Strategize future digital campaigns through our Christmas campaigns.
  5. Reach 100% Angel Tree sponsorship.

With Angel Tree Romania only in it’s 3rd year, still an infant in this annual campaign for The Salvation Army, we needed to find a reliable strategy to achieve our goal of reaching 100% sponsorship, all while also trying to increase the number of children registered this year and while witnessing a decrease in initial sponsorships through partners.

We rely heavily on schools who partner with us for Angel Tree, but the current restrictions closed all schools throughout Romania, hitting us hard with success prior to launching the Angel Tree 2020 campaign.

Back in late summer we began research into various platforms that would be able to achieve a virtual experience, and settled on a template made by G-Lab Group and The Salvation Army Kentucky and Tennessee Division in the USA. After developing and implementing the setup, we began creating our strategy. Through this we were able to find a solution that allowed us to quickly adapt week to week between virtual and physical, ultimately relying on the virtual platform and increasing digital marketing.

We knew the need to utilize the virtual platform was becoming our most hopeful solution, and the idea is simple, transitioning the experience of a traditional physical tree and bringing it online, a transition all too known this year (physical to virtual). We identified and registered the angels from around Romania, our own locations and partner charities as well, logged everything into a new internal database for coordinating the latest progress and collaboration with internal staff to keep things on track, as well as provide effective communication as needed, and analyze the data to optimize digital marketing and strategies.

For the experience to the sponsors it’s still magical, the public can access the site, filter by gender or age if they prefer, and ‘adopt’ (sponsor) their angel (child), or multiple. They’ll receive automated messages to inform them of their angel’s wishes, as well as gentle reminders if they maybe lost track amidst the chaotic holiday season. They then visit their preferred place to shop, online or in person, and purchase the angel’s wishes, we all know that fulfilling experience of shopping for our angels, it’s a feeling that is never replaced. Once finished shopping for their gifts, they simply send it to us either dropping off in person or delivery through a courier or post to our office, and the week leading up to Christmas, we’ll sort and distribute to the families around Romania.

Joining us to donate expertise and their time assisting us in digital marketing was re7consulting, a marketing firm in Romania, Germany and other parts of the EU. Supporting us with trending keywords and creating ads and optimizing them, we successfully saw an increase in website traffic and search results via Google. There’s still more room to grow for us, but in a Communication & Development Department consisting of 1, we found better strategies to achieve our KPIs.

Lots of planning and development went into logistics for how to promote, digitally and physically, partnerships and individual connections and creating a reliable platform for Angel Tree Romania. Within the first week we already reached 40% of the virtual sponsorships and had a promise of 125 by the US Army, where they graciously setup a physical tree. We’re eager to see how the remainder of the season performs, but we couldn’t do it without support from our partners and accessibility to amazing technology.

So what are you waiting for? Go visit and sponsor an angel and/or donate financially to help cover the costs of the campaign or ‘forgotten angels’ (angels who’s sponsors forgot to return gifts, or angels that didn’t get sponsored). Together we Rescue Christmas!

How could the world change? Through every spontaneous gesture of kindness

In a world deeply marked by the presence of a virus that has managed to isolate us in a way difficult to anticipate so far, in April, The Salvation Army team arrived with gifts in the homes of 40 children around the Day Center Iași, all coming from vulnerable families.

This approach was possible thanks to the collaboration with the Romanian team of the Amazon company, which offered basic food, cakes and toys to all the little ones of our center in Iași on the eve of the Easter holidays.

In just two days these wonderful people lovingly thought and bought each gift given to the children and our social workers took the place of the heroes in the stories, delivering all the gifts in one day and receiving in return the smiles and hugs of these pure souls.

We thank and the special people from the Amazon Romania team for the solidarity you showed in supporting our approach.

You had the power to bring so much joy to some families tried during this period and for this gesture we also give you the expression of gratitude to these wonderful children!

A Christmas Message from Captains Ionel & Roxana Sandu

Greetings from Romania,

On behalf of my wife and I, we wish a wonderful Christmas to you and your family. Romania exists because of a vision made into reality almost 20 years ago, and we couldn’t exist without the support from our communities, partners, volunteers, soldiers and officers. What a wonderful gift and friendship.

This year, 45 children to attend a camp in the summer, an educational retreat for our local officers, building projects at each of our 5 corps locations and missional outreach programs that help children and families around various communities. Also, we’ve successfully redesigned and launched our new website.

As we close 2018, we look back at the year and thank God and you, our family. This year, we’ve been able to continue operating programs like our Night Street Team in Bucharest, our 2 Youth Community Centres (Geneza Programme), begin 3 new education projects for integrating Roma & Romanian communities in need, music conservatories at a few of our corps, a mobile soup team in Craiova and so much more. Recently, we had truckloads of shoeboxes delivered from a team from the UK and a local Craiova company, ArhiDesign, donated school supplies and backpacks, together providing gifts to all the families in each community we serve across Romania.

For Christmas this year, we have a kettle ringing daily in one of our cities, and at each location will host a Christmas concert for the community. We’ve also launched our first year of Angel Tree in Bucharest, a partnership with a local private school that has their students & families sponsoring our angels, who are children from families in need and orphans.

We thank God for this past year as we look forward to 2019, when we will also celebrate our 20th anniversary of The Salvation Army in Romania. We look back at the progress made and look ahead to continue expanding our ministry of Dragoste și Grija (Love and Care). Again, we would like to wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas and a blessed New Year. And thank you for your support!

Keep up with us on Facebook, Flickr and

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!



Captains Ionel & Roxana Sandu
Romania Regional Leaders

First Christmas Message from General Brian Peddle

HOPE and transformation found in a personal relationship with Jesus are the hallmarks of General Brian Peddle’s first Christmas message as world leader of The Salvation Army. In his video address – available on his Facebook page (, YouTube and downloadable from Vimeo – he speaks of Jesus, who he describes as ‘all about justice, righteousness and salvation’, being ‘right here with us’ as someone who gives ‘words of wisdom and guides us into truth’.

Drawing upon words recorded in Isaiah 9, the General explains the message of hope in the Bible – the ‘hope of light and life which are only found in the promised Saviour’. Contrasting ‘dead ritualistic religion’ with a ‘vibrant, life-giving relationship’, the General proclaims that, for God, ‘nothing is impossible – he forgives sins, heals diseases and raises the dead.’

The General challenges Salvationists and friends to ‘trust God, rely on his power, live in relationship with him and partner with him to bring life, light and hope to our world.’

The video message – which is intended for sharing with friends and family members – has been made available to as many Salvationists and friends as possible through the addition of subtitles. More than 15 languages are available, including Spanish, French, Japanese, Korean and Chinese, thanks to the support of colleagues around the world.

The General has also recorded a New Year video message, which will be published on Monday 31 December.