by Chris Harris
Time is running out to help make Christmas a little better this year for certain young boys and girls in Pulaski County.
Operation Angel Care is only days away from requiring items purchased for families in need, leaving just this weekend for those who still haven’t taken the name of a child from one of several local “Angel Trees” to make their purchase.
Monday, December 9 is the day when gifts should be returned to the location from which the “angel” — a cherubic-shaped piece of paper listing the age, measurements, and specific Christmas “wish list” items of a particular child in the community who comes from a less-fortunate home situation.
Alas, there are still plenty of children whose angels have yet to be claimed.
“It’s slow this year,” said Wynona Padgett of Clear Channel-Lake Cumberland Radio, who is helping to facilitate the Operation Angel Care program this year.
“I don’t know if it’s the economy or if people haven’t started Christmas shopping yet, but it’s slow,” she continued. “Just about everyone involved has several angels left.”
Two locations that have been pretty well cleared of their angels are Cumberland Beauty School and Bob Evans Restaurant.
However, angels are still available at CC’s Furniture, Don Marshall, Ashley Furniture, the Castle, Paul’s Discount, and the Commonwealth Journal.
One thing that may have made a difference is the absence of school participation, noted Padgett. Somerset Independent Schools still made referrals, the Pulaski County School District’s school resource center had other project interests this year, said Padgett, while Science Hill’s kids are covered by the Science Hill Nazarene Church.
Another difference for angels that might have been otherwise claimed through school participation is the inclusion of a number of children, infants to about 2-3 years old, that don’t attend school yet.
“People say they like to buy more for younger children, so we’ve got more younger ones than in the past,” said Padgett. However, “teenagers need Christmas gifts too. With peer pressure and everything, it’s got to be difficult to go back to school and having nothing to show for (Christmas).”
Any names that aren’t taken in time will still be able to receive gifts — but money is needed.
“We’ll take the remaining angels and shop for them,” said Padgett. “We raised money (to do so) at the ‘Taste of the Lake’ event (in August), but it will not be enough if more names are not taken.”
To that end, Padgett said she anticipates doing more broadcasts in the middle of next week to encourage people to make monetary donations.
On Monday, anyone who’s taken an angel should return it to the location where they picked it up. Attach the angel to the wrapped package or gift bad.
Angel buyers are asked to spend between $35 or $40 only on one child. Padgett noted that getting a good deal on something — say, spending $40 on an item that might be marked down from twice that amount — is okay, but the program would prefer people not go on a shopping spree.
“If you can find good value, that’s perfectly fine,” said Padgett. “We just don’t want someone spending $100 on a child because that child may be in the same family as someone who gets only $35 in gifts.”
Gifts of clothes — a necessity for school life — as well as special age-appropriate fun items are encouraged for the children, based on what the child has listed on the angel card.
Multi-colored angels on the tree are for donations of money to God’s Food Pantry to help fund their annual holiday food drive, and beyond into 2014. Even if all the holiday baskets are paid for by this time, as Padgett noted, “as soon as the baskets are gone, the shelves are empty again, and they have to be ready for their regular clients.”
Donations may also be returned attached to an angel — check or envelope of cash — to the location the angel came from by Monday. Include a mailing address to receive a receipt from God’s Food Pantry to recognize your donation.
If you’re out shopping this weekend, stop by one of the above locations and pick up an angel — and that way, you can be an angel to a special little boy or girl in this community.
“I think most of us have what we need,” said Padgett. “Most of us can afford to buy gifts for our friends and family. It’s really just a matter of sharing what we have.”