A three decade-plus legacy of the Prince Edward County community caring for children at Christmas continues.
The Christmas Angel Tree program is back for another year and while everyone would surely agree in a perfect world there would be no need for a seasonal safety mechanism to ensure local children have a pathway to a happy Christmas, thank goodness it’s available in this giving community.
Administered by The Children’s Foundation (TCF), a body under the auspices of Highland Shores Children’s Aid Society, the Christmas Angel campaign supports between 250 and 300 children annually, supplying donated gifts, food and warm winter wear to those that would go without this season.
Behind the program virtually every year since it’s inception is the angel of the Angel program is organizer Susan Rose.
Rose said the program’s originating belief some 30 years ago still holds true today.
“The point of the program is to give children a nice Christmas and give a family a hand up at a time that can be incredibly hard and stressful,” she explained.
The community gives support to the Angel Tree Program in several different ways.
Typically businesses , service organizations and individuals will take a number of paper angels off the Christmas tree at the campaign office and buy gifts for that child, returning them prior to the delivery date, typically between Dec. 20-23.
Others give donations of gifts or money that are accepted at the campaign office by Angel tree volunteers who then purchase toys and goods and/or distribute them appropriately among the remaining children that have yet to be selected from the tree.
In addition to the gift program, the office accepts donations of food as well as new winter clothing.
“There are several families that might miss the OPP snow suit program and we try to outfit those children as well,” Rose added.
To ensure there’s no duplication, Rose said the Angel office co-ordinates with all other Christmas time assistance programs in the area such as those administered through the Salvation Army and the local food banks.
Several groups and organizations take up the challenge to ensure not a single paper angel is left on the tree at the campaign office and those include students and faculty at PECI, the Kinsmen and Kinette clubs of Picton and the Rotary Club of Picton amongst others.
“PECI does a wonderful job each year and has for many years,” Rose said. “The Kinsmen and Kinettes not only take on a bunch of angels but they’ve provided us office space here at Benson Hall for the last four years.”
This year marks the final year of donations from the current incarnation of the Cement Plant Social Club who have raised and donated thousands of dollars to the Angel Tree program annually and have assisted so many other worthwhile causes.
Rose made mention of the local cement plant workers and thanked them for their continued support each year.
“If (the social club) doesn’t continue, it’s going to be a huge loss for this community,” she added.
While the program has been supported by TCF for just the last few years, the continuous efforts of Rose and the program’s volunteers is not lost on Kate Anderson, Foundation program coordinator for Prince Edward County.
“It’s amazing to see this level of dedication here year after year and the Foundation is lucky to have Susan Rose and the team partner with us in this program,” Anderson said. “We look forward to it every year and we hope the support from the community continues to grow.”
In addition to the Angel Tree campaign, TCF supports a number of sport, camp, and music subsidy programs for families to take advantage of to ensure no one ever gets left out.
Information on these off setting registration fee programs are available at the campaign office which is currently open weekdays 10 a.m. To 3 p.m. Monday to Friday but would be expanding as Christmas draws near.
For more information on program enrolment or donation, please call 613-242-9206.