Many businesses in our community will be hosting Angel Trees soon. The Angel tree has replaced the old Sub-for-Santa programs that we used to have in our area.
Kid's names who may not get much for Christmas are put on the Angel Tree and people who want to help out can pick a name or many names and provide items for the children for Christmas.
It is a great program and our community is generous in its participation. But each year there are several names left on the tree as Christmas draws near. Businesses and groups step up at the last minute and make sure no one is left out.
It becomes easy to look at all the names, year after year and get a little jaded. I've heard comments like, "Those kids get more than my kids do." Maybe so and maybe not. In the end we need to keep the focus on the kids.
When economic times get tight for all of us, it might be easy to pass up the Angel tree because they are filled with the names from those "welfare families" any way.
But, in truth the names on the tree represent kids who are there because of many family circumstances beyond their control. True there are some whose parents seem to take the easy course through life. But even then, you may not know the whole story.
Parents may have disabilities that keep them from holding a decent job. The family may be working, but the employment may be only enough to pay the bills, extras not included.
Sudden death or disability of the main bread winner, may necessitate a family using services like the Angel tree to keep a little bit of cheer for the kids this year. Lay-offs may put a family in a position near Christmas they didn't plan on.
Families that seem to have it all together may be dealing with some issues that tie up their income. Longterm illness or a catastrophic medical problem may leave a family wondering how they will give their kids a merry Christmas.
Women (or men) who have left a domestic violence relationship may have suddenly had their lives turned upside down. Financial need is certainly not for us to judge.
There are also families that have taken on extra children like foster kids or family members due to the various reasons that kids need to stay with others. Costs to care for the extra kids begin to add up, especially during the holidays even when they get some reimbursements.
People who have hand delivered their Angel tree donations say their lives are touched in ways that can't be explained. The majority of the recipients are so grateful that they are brought to tears.
Despite rising gas prices and other bad economic news, I hope the community steps up with open arms and clears the names off the Angel Tree in the next two weeks so that the trees are bare and no one's Christmas is left in doubt.
When you pick your names off the tree, think about what your own kids would delight to open on Christmas day. Pick out items that will expand these kids quality of life and keep them smiling for long after the tree is taken down.
See you at the Angel Tree and Happy Thanksgiving.