PRESS RELEASE: Firm Volunteers to Design Angel Tree Warehouse for Salvation Army

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

ProBono Project Directly Impacts the Angel Tree Program

Staff at Bennett Benner Partners Architects + Planners of Fort Worth designed an efficient  and warm space for The Salvation Army’s Christmas and Disaster Center where the organization sorts and distributes Angel Tree gifts.

The Salvation Army approached BBP about improving its facility on East Felix Street in Fort Worth.  The firm’s staff members, long involved in countless community projects, readily agreed to take on the project as volunteers. 

“We all know the great work that The Salvation Army does nationwide, and we also passionately support the Angel Tree program,” said Michael Bennett, the firm’s Principal and CEO. “This was an opportunity for us to partner with The Salvation Army to directly impact our community and provide an efficient operation for their clients to receive their Christmas packages from this extraordinary organization.”

Senior associate, R. Gannon Gries, led the project team. After an initial meeting with Captain Michele Matthews, the firm set a plan in motion to create an economical design to make the center multifunctional. 

“Team members met with us multiple times just to learn about the programs operated out of that facility and created a new space that took into account parking and traffic flow as well as the flow of multiple user groups throughout the facility,” said Captain Michele Matthews, The Salvation Army's DFW Metroplex Commander. "We thought they were just going to help us determine the best flow of movement through the building, but instead they were with us every step of the way in this project!” 

Nearly all the firm’s architecture and interior design staff collaborated on the project – logging 500 volunteer hours. 

The center is the heart of the Angel Tree Program in Tarrant County, serving 11,000 angels. The challenge was to design spaces to serve 3,700 people in four days each December for the Angel Tree program. That’s 60 people every 20 minutes. 

The design team wanted to make the center more inviting and warm for family members picking up Angel Tree gifts and more functional during the rest of the year when the center also provides a range of critical services during disasters. 

“The project was very meaningful to us because we were able to use our professional training and expertise to create well-planned spaces that will serve The Salvation Army now and in the future as this crucial organization continues to support people in need,” said Gries.

The 11,000-square-foot facility’s lobby, intake area and distribution room were part of the renovation. These spaces were targeted for their high traffic nature in areas occupied by parents receiving Angel Tree gifts. Additionally the exterior of the building was also enhanced to give the agency a visible presence on Fort Worth’s south east side and positively impact the neighborhood aesthetically. 

“We are very proud of our newly renovated facility and know that it is because of the Bennett Benner Partners team and their committed involvement in the project,” Matthews said. "We cannot say enough great things about the work they did on the renovation of our Christmas & Disaster Center." 

The Salvation Army’s iconic shield logo is displayed in paint and through shadow silhouette to brand the space. The distribution room features reclaimed doors which can be decorated to give the space a warm, personal feel for clients and volunteers. The windows in the doors will eventually spotlight images of volunteers, thus giving the impression of seeing through to the bustling warehouse where volunteers and staff are busy sorting, picking and moving packages.

Other spaces included a training room, staff offices, break room, expanded restrooms and exterior circulation. Exterior improvements included sustainable landscaping, exterior awnings and supergraphics.

“This was just the right project for us because we are determined to make our community a better place to live, work and thrive. We came together as a team to create an outcome that will directly benefit our neighbors,” Gries said. “We were very much inspired by The Salvation Army’s dedicated staff and their legacy of sharing and caring.”

“And of course, just because the building is complete doesn't mean they consider the work done,” Matthews said. “A team from Bennett Benner Partners has volunteered and distributed Christmas gifts with us, proving by action that the renovation was a success and reiterating that they are a company committed to their community and seeing a project through to the very end."

The Salvation Army is still accepting last minute gifts and donations at the Christmas and Disaster Center at 229 E. Felix Street in Fort Worth from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. They are in critical need of these items: 

  • Diapers
  • Baby wipes
  • Crib mobiles
  • Lego sets
  • Board games suitable for ages 10 - adult
  • Hand held games
  • Arts/Crafts kits
  • Teen girl hair accessories
  • Wireless remote control cars or helicopters
  • Balls (football, basketball, soccer, baseball)
  • MP3 players
  • Digital cameras
  • Barbie dolls
  • Coats – all sizes

About Bennett Benner Partners
Bennett Benner Partners is a multi-disciplinary design firm, offering architecture, urban design and planning, interior design and landscape architecture services. The firm’s objective is to create projects that heighten the capabilities and brand value of its clients while improving communities and making a positive difference in the environment. With the personal attention of its leaders, Bennett Benner Partners applies keen insight, problem-solving skills and a collaborative approach to complex situations. The firm’s team members work to understand the fabric of the communities in which they work and to thoughtfully design in concert with their clients. Bennett Benner Partners is based in Fort Worth, Texas and on the Web at

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army is a worldwide Christian organization that in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex provides more than 70 different programs and services to help make life better for individuals and families. Services include: substance abuse treatment, homeless shelters, life-skills classes, non-perishable food, Christmas gifts for children, disaster relief, domestic violence programs, emergency financial assistance, after-school programs, summer day camps, computer training, senior citizens services, and low-cost youth sports leagues. 

The Salvation Army’s religious and social service activities serve millions of men, women and children in more than 100 nations around the world. Volunteers, contributors, and other supporters make the services possible in local communities across the country. For more information, go to