Pauls Valley Democrat
The meaning of Christmas has always brought warmth to hearts be it among loved ones or family, but for a set of Pauls Valley volunteers it comes from finding a supply where one might not expect plenty.
It happens each year through the area’s Angel Tree program; a certain magic found in the eyes of children who might not be able to celebrate the same day otherwise. As some of those gifts are opened today or the next, those like Lynn Littrell have had just as much joy getting another chance to wrap and collect the gifts generously donated from the community.
“It’s helping children that are less fortunate in the community,” said Littrell. “It’s just so they can get to have a Christmas.”
Though the volunteers come from different walks of life, one group from the Department of Human Services Disability Services Division has made it a regular tradition of getting together for the cause, including Littrell, who lives in Marlow and usually handles the foster grandparents program.
She said it takes a lot of people to get all the work done and according to another volunteer Robin Hays, there were about 270 kids, each getting a couple of gifts this time around.
“We all get excited to come every year,” said Mary Fajt, who works as a case manager and noted how it’s been about 8 years of participation for the group. “It takes a lot to wrap all of these.”
For others like Guardianship Coordinator Tony Digby, it has a much more personal meaning since he has helped kids previously in child welfare and now is able to give in a different way. He said it’s worth taking time off from work to make sure kids are not left out of the joy of a surprise unwrapping.
“I used to work child welfare so this kind of hits home,” said Digby. “That’s what keeps me coming.”
Helping lead the way pretty much from the beginning has been volunteer Billie Hays, who never tires of sharing the generosity she’s seen from the people who make it possible, be it the host location First Christian Church or people forgoing so someone else can have what they might have taken for granted.
She said this year has not been any easier to provide as families seem to be even needier this time around, though just when it seems needs won’t be met, that’s when people step up to a whole new level.
In the end, the benefits go further than all the people that can be thanked and also includes donations of blankets for those under 1-year-old as well as clothing, food and gifts if families need assistance there as well, said Hays.
She is pleased no one will be left out and always looks forward to how people will amaze her next time.
“It’s like God gives a gift and we just share,” said Hays. “Friends have banded together and instead of buying each other gifts, they do this.”