Holiday tree lighting signals kickoff of giving season at MUSC

November 02, 2023
A woman laughs as two boys stand by a pretend gift. Three people and a Christmas tree are behind them.
Melissa Kubu, leader of the Angel Tree effort at MUSC, laughs and helps Bennett Gulyas and Jackson Bell turn on the lights Nov. 9, 2023. Photos by Sarah Pack

Note: This story was updated Nov. 14, 2023 to include new photos and information.

Santa Claus is coming to town! Oh, and bagpipers! And is that Charlie the RiverDog? 

OK, so maybe we should slow down a bit. Long before St. Nick graces the Lowcountry with his presence (and presents), a few other holiday cheer spreaders came to visit. On Thursday, Nov. 9, at 5:30 p.m., Bennett Gulyas and Jackson Bell helped light the MUSC Angel Tree in the garden outside the Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital, facing Calhoun Street.

Two women hold giant bags filled with toys outside 
File photo: Laura Bulmer (left) and Melissa Kubu deliver bags of toys to the Greenway.

Every year, about a month and a half before Christmas, MUSC lights a tree that epitomizes the spirit of giving. It is the centerpiece of a program run by the Salvation Army. Its mission is to take applications from parents who need help providing gifts for their children (angels). Then people “adopt” these angels and buy them toys, clothing, bikes and other items so that the parents have gifts to give their kids during the holidays. Hanging on the tree are tags with the children’s first names and ages, and each Angel’s wish list available at select locations across campus for employees, students and anyone else who wants to take one. While MUSC is the largest source of donations in the Charleston area, other organizations take part as well, so you may see angel tags in other locations.

“This is such a worthwhile program,” said Melissa Kubu, leader of the Angel Tree effort at MUSC. “It’s such an easy way to give back to our community and it really brings MUSC together as well – and in such a fun way.”

A woman wearing a silly Christmas tiara stands beside a woman and man wearing Salvation Army uniforms and a man in a white doctor's coat. In front of them stand two boys who also have Christmas headwear. 
Left to right, starting with the back row: Melissa Kubu, Salvation Army Captains Cathy and Mike Michels and Mark Scheurer, chief medical officer of the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children's. From row: Jackson Bell and Bennett Gulyas. Nov. 9, 2023.

Roughly a month later comes the annual Parade of Toys, which serves as a celebration of the culmination of weeks of donations to the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program, a national effort that works to ensure that about a million children, who would otherwise go without, receive new clothes and toys for the holidays. The Angel Tree Parade of Toys will be held on Friday, Dec. 8, at noon. The parade will start on Ehrhardt Street and march right on Bee Street to President Street to Jonathan Lucas, then turning right onto Calhoun to McClennan Banks Drive to Charleston Center, left on Courtenay, right on Doughty, ending at the Medical District Greenway where the toys will be unloaded.

To adopt an Angel, contact Melissa Kubu at