A Christmas angel: Local woman provides Christmas gifts for hundreds of children


BRISTOL, Tenn. - During the day Barbara Cross is the catering and retail manager at King University.

"Barbara is a kind soul. She is one of the nicest people I have ever worked with," says food services director and Barbara's co-worker Angel Edwards.

Throughout the year, she's raising money and resources to provide Christmas gifts for angels from The Salvation Army Angel Tree. Each year the angel tree is decorated with the names of children in need.

"We wanted to reach out to the children in the community and help give them Christmas. To all who may never have a Christmas," Cross says.

Five years ago, Barbara began partnering with The Salvation Army through Mabel's Mission, an organization she and her family named after her mother.

"She always mothered children in the neighborhood, and that's the reason we named it Mabel's Mission, after her, and she wanted to make sure the children had and did things, so we want to give back what was given to us," Cross says.

Through donations from friends, family, co-workers, and the community, Barbara has been able to provide Christmas for more than 700 angels since 2012.

"We'll go out after Christmas and try to find sales and just store everything in totes by sizes until the next year and then we'll drag it all out in November and contact places in need," she says.

All to put a smile on the face of a child.

"Barb has such a big heart and she loves children and it breaks her heart to think that any child will do without over Christmas," Edwards says.

"This could be the only Christmas some of the children may receive, so to me it's like if we're not there to help support them, some children may not have anything," Cross says.

For more information on Mabel's Mission email Barbara Cross at and visit The Salvation Army website at