(Jan. 2, 2020) Bolstered by unexpected donations from American Legion Boggs Disharoon Auxiliary Unit #123 in Berlin, the Ocean Pines Aquatics Angel Tree program last week donated gifts so 10 children from four families would have wrapped presents tucked under the tree on Christmas morning.
Operations Director Colby Phillips said the holiday charity endeavor, now in its sixth year, is produced in conjunction with Worcester County GOLD’s (Giving Other Lives Dignity) “Helping Hands for the Holidays” program.
“We have been doing this since 2014,” she said.
Starting in mid-November, residents are invited to visit the “Angel Tree” at the
and remove a paper ornament containing a requested gift donation, which is returned wrapped and packaged to spread holiday cheer for the less fortunate.
The nonprofit Worcester County GOLD helps area residents by providing assistance to at-risk adults, families in need and children in foster care.
Each holiday season, Worcester GOLD’s “Helping Hands” program distributes clothing and toys for families and the elderly under financial distress who might otherwise be unable to provide Christmas presents.
Speaking on Dec. 18, Phillips said after dropping off three loads of donated gifts a day earlier, one more stack was being delivered that day.
“Our community is truly amazing with opening their hearts to this annual event,” she said.
Phillips said community response to the program, which had originally sought to assist three families, occurred at a blistering pace after the tree was erected at the Sports Core Pool last month.
“We put up the ‘Angel Tree’ on Sunday and started on Monday,” she said. “Over 50 [ornaments] were all gone by Wednesday.”
As it turned out, the lightning fast collection was not quite complete, when much to Phillip’s amazement another load of wrapped gifts was delivered by American Legion Unit #123.
“They doubled our toys,” she said.
After the surprise surplus, the outreach effort was extended to a fourth family.
“Each child will be getting 8-10 Christmas gifts each,” she said.
Phillips said the outpouring of community generosity year after year enriches the soul.
“As the person who drops the gifts off each year to the families, I can tell you that I always leave with tears of joy because of the tears of joy shed upon receiving all of the gifts