The holiday spirit is once again buzzing around the 95361 and Tamberly Stone could not be more thrilled.
The Oakdale Center for Human Services Program Manager is excited to once again be bringing the Angel Tree Program to the Oakdale community and the Center’s clients.
Now through Dec. 5, community members are encouraged to purchase either Amazon, Target or Walmart gift cards, to help those in need this Christmas season.
Stone shared while it’s the 12th year for the annual event, it is the third year of requesting gift cards for recipients from the community as opposed to donors purchasing actual gift items.
The three named gift card types, Stone shared were selected for both ease and convenience, enabling families to either shop for Christmas in person at Target or Walmart or online with Amazon. She also shared they prefer denominations of $25 or less to make distribution for the varying families easier.
“I think I would encourage the general public to bring gift cards to our office, because that’s easier,” Stone said of donations. “I would say we are one of the best places for the general public to bring them to.”
A total of nine Oakdale locations are serving as host sites for the 2022 Christmas season. Those nine include: Steves Chevrolet, Learning Tree, The Oakdale Leader, Get Fit Oakdale, Fit Republic, Pak Mail, Sonoco, House of Tykes and Cross Fit, as well as the Center for Human Services location at 631 W. F St., Oakdale.
The Angel Tree deadline for drop off at any of the listed locations is Monday, Dec. 5.
“Our goal is that every child gets a hundred dollars in gift cards,” Stone said of the variety and denomination. “So they can get clothing and needed items and hopefully a toy of some sort. We really try hard to do a hundred dollars.”
The change to gift cards a few years ago has been well received.
“The families get to really have a stake in it this way,” Stone said of giving the parents the gift cards. “They get to be a part of it in a different way,”
Currently they have close to 100 children and between 40 to 50 families as recipients. By requesting gift card amounts of $25 or less, Stone said it gives her flexibility to break them off in the event they don’t have enough to reach the $100 per child goal. There is also a wait list for other families that have a need.
“Just because families aren’t on the regular Angel Tree list, doesn’t mean they’re not going to be served,” Stone shared. “Ideally the families that we work with are connected to us one way or the other.”
For those on the wait list, she shared there will be a specific time later in the season for recipients to pick up toys, donated shoe box items and remaining gift cards if applicable.
“We also do have Soroptimist and one of the 4-H clubs in town, adopt families,” the organizer said of other ways to impact families in need during this time. “So, we have five families already that are being adopted by those two organizations and those organizations are buying gifts and clothing and necessity items for those five families.”
Entire families, including parents, such as these do not participate in the Angel Tree as well, so efforts are not duplicated.
“There are opportunities for people to adopt a whole family or to get friends together or an organization to adopt a family if that really speaks to them,” said Stone.
She also said that while after 12 years, she still thoroughly enjoys the program, the transition to gift cards has been not just helpful for the clients but for her staff and manpower as well.
“I love Angel Tree, it’s probably my favorite project we do. What I love the most is how we distribute,” she noted.
Each year for the past several years, distribution of the gift cards has been hosted on Atlas Court in Oakdale, in the holiday-decorated driveway of the Crossman family.
“There’s nothing more happy than Atlas Court at Christmas time and I’m so happy they let us distribute,” Stone said.
For additional information on the Angel Tree or to inquire about adopting a family, contact Center for Human Services at (209) 847-0420.