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Dust off your halo

Kitsap Community Resources volunteer Shanon Manning cuts out paper stars to be used on 18 Christmas Angel Trees distributed throughout the county.  - Photo by Tracey Cooper
Kitsap Community Resources volunteer Shanon Manning cuts out paper stars to be used on 18 Christmas Angel Trees distributed throughout the county.
— image credit: Photo by Tracey Cooper

Santa’s sleigh may be a little light this year for many families, but Kitsap Community Resources is hoping its Christmas Angel program will fill his sack.

The program, which kicked off recently, provides Christmas gifts for about 3,200 Kitsap County children each year. Eighteen local stores, including Safeway on Callow Avenue and Wal-Mart, have already put up Angel Trees dripping with wishes on paper tags.

“Without the community, we’re not going to be able to help our children,” said Darlene Norris-Cook, human services division director for KCR.

“It’s all about where your heart is. We just ask for a little bit of their heart,” she said.

Natural disasters have slowed money donations to KCR by about 50 percent, said Lynne Lance, community relations director for KCR.

People can either sponsor a specific family by calling KCR, or pluck a paper star from one of the trees to buy gifts for a child not yet sponsored. Each family has discussed its wants and needs with a caseworker and demonstrated a need for support, Norris-Cook said.

If a group or individual sponsors a family, the sponsor contacts the family directly to negotiate what will be donated. Some sponsors build relationships with their families. For example a group at the shipyard purchased a class ring, senior portraits and a prom dress for a student one year.

“All kinds of wonderful things happen at Christmas here,” she said.

The program isn’t just about toys, she said. Last year sponsors bought 100 children mattresses to get them off the floor. Most of the requests are simply for new socks and underwear.

“People are truly grateful for what they receive,” Norris-Cook said.

All of the recipients meet income guidelines and must be working with a caseworker through KCR. According to these guidelines, a family of two for instance makes less than $1,400 a month. With housing and energy costs on the rise, there’s virtually nothing left over for the holidays Cook-Norris said.

The Christmas Angel donations are part of Santa’s Shop where the gifts are given to families throughout December. Volunteers are needed to run packages during the largest distribution of about 1,500 gifts in mid-December.

“Give a $5 bill, come down and run packages,” she suggested.

“Anything and all is welcomed.”

To sponsor a family call (360) 377-0053.

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