The shelves at Good Samaritan's Angel Program "Angel Store" are nearly empty and in need of donations to fill them for the children who will benefit from the program this year.
Good Samaritan executive director Connie Chambers said they anticipate helping around 750 children with gifts, clothing, coats and other items for Christmas this year through the Angel Program.
The Angel Program strives to give the children more than just toys, providing new clothing, coats, gloves, socks and other essentials.
The program provides gifts for children of all ages from newborns to teenagers, but the children must come from families who either qualify for public assistance or fall within income guidelines.
The Angel Program strives to give children more than just toys, providing new clothing, coats, gloves, socks and other essentials.
Teens are an especially difficult age group for the organization to receive donations to cover. In previous years, younger children received the most donations.
In an effort to find out what the kids in this age category would like to receive for Christmas, Good Samaritan teamed up with local schools to do a survey with students in grades six through 12.
Chambers said that the survey revealed a want for certain items including gift cards from Game Stop, Aeropostale, and Claire's; clothing such as hooded sweatshirts and skinny jeans, popular book series, and other items (see break box).
The Angel Program also provides Wal-Mart gift cards for the elderly who qualify.
Good Samaritan requests that items donated for the Angel Program be new because it believes that "this may be the only time some of the children receive something brand new."
"There are several ways to help," Chambers said. "They can donate toys and other gifts or they can donate money so that we can shop for the stuff, or they can come by and request a card to buy for a specific age and gender."
Cards have an age, sizes, and suggestions for gifts on them for individuals who would like to "adopt an angel." The cards are not for specifically named children, but provide general information about children who will benefit from the program.
Donated clothing, toys and other items can be dropped off at the Good Samaritan Thrift Store, while monetary donations can be given to Genesis House.
Parents utilizing the program will not be "shopping" in the rear of the food pantry this year, but will get to enjoy a new location at St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church. The church donated the use of space for the "store" because the space at the rear of the pantry was too small, according to Chambers.
In the new space, parents will have a place to sit while they wait their turn to shop, a gift-wrapping area and Chambers hopes an area to pick up a craft to take home to do with their children. She said she was hoping Good Samaritan will be able to provide something like sugar cookie dough with all the frosting and decorating items so that parents could do a baking project with their kids.
"We are hoping to help connect parents with their kids," Chambers said.
People wishing to sign up to benefit from the Angel Program can sign up Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with the exception of Wednesdays. Sign-ups on Wednesdays are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. until Nov. 30.
"Shopping" for beneficiaries begins Dec. 10 and will continue, Monday through Friday, until Dec. 21. Good Samaritan will be taking donations for the program all the way up to the last minute.
Chambers said people wishing to sign-up were required to show proof of public assistance such as an EBT or Medicaid card or, if not on public assistance, four pay stubs. Beneficiaries should also bring Social Security Cards for all individuals in a house and proof of residency.
"We are working hard to make sure people who participate have a legitimate need," Chambers said.
Participants in other programs such as St. Nick's Benefit or Shop With a Cop are not allowed to participate in the Angel Program. The organizations share who their beneficiaries are with one another to prevent anyone from receiving double services.
In the case of special circumstances, such as someone getting laid off, Chambers invited people to stop by anyway.
"Everything is not written in stone, we may understand special circumstances like illness or loss of a job," Chambers said.
6th - 12th grade wish list:
In an effort to find out what the kids in this age category would like to receive for Christmas, Good Samaritan teamed up with local schools to do a survey. The survey revealed the following:
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