Santa's Angels Bring "One Magical Christmas" to Needy Pinellas Families
Charity Needs Gifts and Volunteers For Over 100 Families and 300 Kids
MADEIRA BEACH - The Santa's Angels Christmas Charity is seeking Angel volunteers and donations for its annual gift shopping and delivery program. The effort helps less-fortunate families enjoy "one magical Christmas," according to the group's executive director, Lynne Hawthorne. "Filling a child's heart takes so little, but means so much," Hawthorne said.
The Angel volunteers agree to select and sponsor a needy family with children from infant to 16-years-old. The Angels shop for gifts from each child's "wish list" and, then, delivering the gifts to the family's home. Donations to the group help to underwrite the purchase of the gifts, food and holiday decorations for the families. Funding for the gift purchases comes from Santa's Angels' annual budget; the volunteers do not have to spend their own money for the purchases.
Working in partnership with the Salvation Army, the Santa's Angels group, a certified 501(c)3 charity, identifies families receiving support from the department. These families, typically, wouldn't have the financial resources to have a full Christmas experience. Then, through its network of Angel volunteers (local residents who sponsor a family), gifts of clothing, toys, sporting goods, food and holiday decorations are purchased and delivered to the sponsored families. Santa's Angels gives the sponsors $50 per child for gifts. The group expects to expand its program by at least 30 percent for Christmas 2007.
Currently, Santa's Angels needs Angel volunteers from all over Pinellas County to "adopt" about 100 families who have been identified but not sponsored, so far. These Angel volunteers will get a list of children, their clothing sizes and their gift requests. The Angel volunteers, then, shop for the kids at local stores. Due to the numerous product recalls involving toys this year, only new and unopened items will be selected. For 2007, the group has also added comfort items like new pillows and blankets to its recommended shopping list. Once shopping is complete, the gifts and other items are delivered to the families in the days immediately before Christmas.
Last year, in addition to its individual volunteers, Santa's Angels enjoyed support from the American Legion Post #158 in Treasure Island. Additionally, this year, residents of Freedom Square, a retirement community in Seminole, are assisting with the gift shopping and wrapping effort.
For further information about the Santa's Angels Holiday Delivery Program, please visit the "Santa's Angels Artisan Showcase and Gift Wrapping Station" store in Seminole Mall (opening December 1) or call Mark Deighton, (727) 367-2208.
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