Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Angel Tree Sponsors Needed in Fayette County

(L-R) CARE Coordinator Karen Spangler and her assistant, Dian Farrente, stand next to the Angel Tree Board representing nearly 300 needy students and their families.

Nearly 300 students and their families are in need of “angels” this holiday season.

The Fayette County Public School System’s annual CARE (Children at Risk in Education) Angel Tree project is underway and the needs of students and their families are reflective of the current economic situation in Fayette, the state and nation.

The CARE Angel Tree is different from most holiday donation projects in that students and families make non-traditional gift requests. This year the school system is seeing requests for more basic needs such as toilet paper, soap, shampoo and conditioner, dish and laundry detergent, and cleaning supplies. Angel requests span across all grade levels and areas of the county.

“We are getting numerous requests for very basic living necessities that many of us take for granted. Many of our angels are for students and their families who have never been in a financial hardship before,” says CARE Coordinator Karen Spangler. “We have parents who have lost jobs and are still without work or had to take a drastic pay cut. These are the working poor who are trying to make ends meet.”

In order for a student and/or family to make a gift request, at least one of the parents must be working or legitimately trying to find work. Counselors at each school identify those who are in need and make recommendations for placement in the angel project if the students and their families meet the required guidelines.

“When the community makes a donation to our project, we want them to know that we are being good stewards of their gifts. We want them to know that their donations are being given to those who truly need and will use them,” says Spangler.

Besides basic needs, other requests include gas cards for getting to and from medical appointments and jobs, portable heaters, pots and pans, automobile tires, beds and mattresses, and linens and blankets.

Also, there are more requests from the high school level than in the past. Many of these students are in need of clothing, shoes and basic toiletries. Since older students are sometimes harder to fit than younger ones, it is requested that sponsors donate a gift card so that school counselors can help the students shop for clothing that appeals to them and fits properly.

The community can select an angel off the Angel Tree board located at the former East Fayette Elementary School on Booker Avenue in Fayetteville. Angels will be available for sponsorship now through early December.

Persons who would rather make a donation instead of sponsoring a particular child or family can do so by dropping off basic need items, non-perishable foods or gift cards at the front office of the former East Fayette Elementary School or at the Fayette County Board of Education office at 210 Stonewall Avenue in Fayetteville. These donations will help stock the holiday shopping center the last week before the winter break, giving school counselors an opportunity to shop for last minute needs for families who have just moved into the area or lost a job, got evicted, etc.
“This has been a huge success the past two years. We always have families and students who suddenly find themselves in need just before the holidays. Donations to the holiday shopping center are greatly appreciated so that we can help students and their families have a brighter holiday season,” says Spangler.

All donations are due by December 11 so that school staff can distribute the gifts to families in time for the holidays. For questions about the CARE Angel Tree Project or directions, please contact Betty Albers, 770-460-1390.

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