No more SS number checks at toy drive

December 3, 2009 9:15:22 AM PST
The Salvation Army Greater Houston Area Command announced it will no longer require Social Security numbers as part of the registration process for its Christmas assistance program known as the Angel Tree program. The Angel Tree is the nonprofit organization's annual holiday gift giving program that provides new unwrapped gifts to disadvantaged children and seniors in the Greater Houston region. "It was never our intention to offend anyone with our registration requirement to provide a Social Security number, or to give the impression that we were discriminating against those individuals and families who do not have a Social Security number," says Major Chris Flanagan, Area Commander for The Salvation Army Greater Houston Area Command. "The Salvation Army has been in this community for over 120 years now, serving the needs of all, and we will continue to do so. Immigration status is not a detractor for providing assistance."

Prior to this announcement, The Salvation Army Greater Houston Area Command required proof of income, one form of identification and a Social Security number for at least one member of a family in order to register for the Angel Tree program. With the single Social Security number, The Salvation Army registered all members of the same household regardless of whether they had a Social Security number or not.

In most cases, individuals and families who were not able to provide a Social Security number were still provided assistance by The Salvation Army Greater Houston Area Command. Valid forms of identification include school registration, Medicaid cards, Consular cards, food stamps cards, and birth certificates.

The Social Security numbers provided were never used to verify legal status. Instead, Social Security numbers were entered into a Salvation Army Greater Houston Area Command database that searched for matches on the same number. If a match was found, families were informed they had already registered for the Angel Tree program, that they would receive the help they were asking for, but that they could not register more than once for the same program.


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