Angels are among us.
That is what Oakdale Center for Human Services, Program Manager Tamberly Stone knows for certain.
CHS has once again sent tags out into the community for its annual ‘Angel Tree’ project.
This year a total of 10 locations have opened their doors offering space to host the trees adorned with gift tags filled with wishes of those less fortunate. A total of 250 Angel tags have been dispersed among the 10 locations.
That’s a major boost from 2011 when CHS began the Angel Trees; there were four sites and 67 angels that year.
Locations for 2018 include: St. Mary’s Church, Steves Chevrolet, Learning Tree, House of Tykes, The Oakdale Leader, Koru Power Yoga Studio, Oakdale Veterinary Group, Oakdale Pediatrics, Cross Fit Oakdale and Pak Mail. Final deadline for locations to return unwrapped gifts to CHS is Friday, Dec. 14.
“St. Mary’s takes the most each year,” Stone said of the location and the 65 tags taken and distributed. She noted that the church has been supportive of the event since CHS first took it over in 2011.
“It’s incredible how our community just rallies together and not just for the tree,” she added.
Stone shared in addition to the Angel Tree at the holidays, CHS families also benefit from Toys For Tots, 4-H groups adopting families to gift and Shoebox projects by Oakdale High School and Fair Oaks Elementary.
Angel Tags represent a variety of needs for a child from clothing, to shoes, outerwear and maybe a special toy. The program manager shared that while the toys are fun, it’s heartwarming to see the emotion some have for a simple pair of shoes, noting for some children it is the first pair of new shoes they’ve had in quite some time.
“I know what it’s like to not have a lot,” Stone said. “So to be able to help somebody to have something under their tree that year, that’s really fun and exciting.”
While the project requires a lot of work from Stone and her team, she stated that through the help of the community and years of experience, it runs pretty smoothly.
“Fortunately we come from such a generous community, this isn’t difficult,” she said.
According to Stone, Angels are first offered to families the center is currently helping and knows have need. It is then opened to the community by word of mouth. Once the list is established it’s cross referenced with the Oakdale Lions Club’s Christmas Shopping Tour recipients.
“When you see parents pick up these gifts for their kids and they look in the bag and they have tears in their eyes,” she said, “and they cry or they tell you thank you. They know they wouldn’t be able to put those packages under the tree without our help. That’s why I do it. It’s for the children.”