Residents ‘adopt’ Angel Tree ornaments and become secret Santa to area children
Ozark County Family Services, partnering with retired social worker Karla Smith and the Ozark County Sheriff’s Department, are working to make sure Santa visits every child in the county this year. Family Services staff members organize the annual “Angel Trees” here to provide gifts for children who might not otherwise receive presents for Christmas. Last year, gifts were purchased for close to 160 Ozark County children, organizers said.
Businesses, churches and other organizations who have agreed to set up a Christmas display, usually a tree, decorate it with angel ornaments that include a child’s age, sex, clothing size and a list of items the child needs and also a list of gifts he or she hopes for. Customers of the business or members of the church or organization take an ornament and buy as many of the items requested as they care to purchase.
Ornaments are still available on the Angel Trees at these locations: Deb and Lou’s Cafe, Curl Up & Dye at Molly’s, Century Bank of the Ozarks and Antler Pizza & Package, all in Gainesville; Century Bank of the Ozarks in Theodosia; and Just Jackie’s in Pontiac.
“We provide the paper ornaments with the child’s information,” said Karla Smith. “Each business decides how many ornaments it will be responsible for. We’ve had requests for as few as four and as many as 45. We also provide a letter with organization details for this year’s project, a master list of ornaments and an extra copy of the ornament details.”
Businesses are responsible for keeping track of who “adopts” the ornaments and for ensuring that the presents are returned to their business by the 11 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 20, deadline. Ozark County Family Service representatives and Ozark County Sheriff’s Department staff pick up the gifts and distribute them in time for Christmas.
If any ornaments are left over, Sheriff Darrin Reed and his staff use money that citizens have donated to the Sheriff’s Community Fund to buy presents so no child is left out.
“We never know how many kids we’ll be buying for,” said the sheriff’s fund administrator, Gail Reich. “We always welcome donations to help.” Make checks payable to Ozark County Sheriff’s Community Fund and leave at Century Bank or mail to 1818 County Road 806, Gainesville, MO 65655