Angel Gift program provides ‘a complete Christmas’ for 258 children

Published 8:20 am Sunday, December 25, 2022

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The Angel Gift Program provided Christmas gifts in abundance for 118 Dare County families this year, which included 258 children.

The Outer Banks Woman’s Club, in cooperation with the Department of Social Services, has been serving the community through the Angel Gift program for 35 years.

The program started years ago because the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program didn’t come to the Outer Banks. “This was our way to give something to our community,” said Joanne Schoenfeld, one of the Angel Gift program coordinators.

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Families apply for the need-based program through social services. Once accepted, the Outer Banks Woman’s Club begins the process of meeting with each family to learn about individual needs, ages and clothing sizes of the children and special Christmas wish list toy items like bicycles or scooters.

“It’s a complete Christmas!” said Schoenfeld. Each child receives well over a dozen gifts. “We get shirts and tops and shoes and pants and outerwear and a jacket and hat and clogs or whatever. Whatever the family has asked for we try to provide.”

Children 9 years old and above receive gift certificates for clothing stores like Belk or TJ Maxx, and gift certificates for shoe stores so they can choose items that fit their style. “If there are special needs for the children we try to accommodate that,” she added.

Hundreds of people give through the Angel Gift program every year.

“We put out 500 angels on various trees and all of them were taken. That’s just the angels. Then I have churches,” Schoenfeld said. Churches have their own ways of distributing the lists throughout their organization, she said. “One church took 20 kids, another took 15.”

Local businesses and organizations also sponsor children and families.

Once the unwrapped presents have been returned to the Baum Center in Kill Devil Hills, members of the Outer Banks Woman’s Club get to work processing the gifts – making sure all items asked for were bought, organizing gifts into family groups, bagging everything and coordinating with families to give out the gifts.

“It’s a very complicated and involved process,” Shoenfeld said.

But she and the other members of the Outer Banks Woman’s Club do it “for the love of the community.”

“We want the children to have a great holiday … to give them a little enjoyment,” she added.