Angel Tree Helps Dozens Of Families During Holidays

By Frank Sinatra, AAP Editor

Thanks to the generosity of the local community, Pennsauken’s Angel Tree program was one of the most successful it’s ever been. Last month, over 50 families in need were helped during the holidays.

“Each and every year, the Pennsauken community really steps up for the Angel Tree program,” says Elwood “Duke” Martz, director of Pennsauken’s Parks and Recreation department. “A lot of residents, businesses, and organizations are extremely generous with a variety of donations. And this year was no different. Because of their amazing support, children who normally would go without had presents under their Christmas trees.”

Angel Tree volunteers see the impact of the program first hand. Larry Cardwell, a longtime Township employee, has participated in the Angel Tree program since 2002.

“Every year, I get to see firsthand the surprise, the gratitude and even some tears when the bell rings, the door opens, and I hand large bags of Christmas gifts to a resident,” says Cardwell. “What an incredible way for people to ensure that others that can use a little help for their family receive exactly what they need. This program always gets me in the Christmas spirit and I am so glad to play a small part.”

Several individuals, groups, and businesses provided financial donations to help the Angel Tree program purchase toys for needy families, including the Pennsauken-Merchantville Area Chamber of Commerce (P.M.A.C.), the employees who work at the Pennsauken Township Municipal Building, Gross-Hollinshed VFW Post 1270 Auxiliary, Kathleen Yanzuk, Mike O’Brien, Pamela Diggs, Michelle Romvary, and others who wished to remain anonymous. In addition, Physician and Tactical Healthcare Services, LLC (P.A.T.H.S.) made a very generous donation that enabled the program to help even more families this holiday season.

Others groups donated new, unwrapped toys to the Angel Tree program. The giving kicked off with a toy donation drive, held by members of P.M.A.C. at the Pennsauken Country Club, and extended throughout the month of December. Thanks also go to Saint Stephen’s Roman Catholic Church, Bombardier Transportation, PYAA, the Merchantville-Pennsauken Water Commission, as well as Delta Sigma Theta Sorority (S.J.A.C.), all of whom helped create another record toy collection for the Angel Tree program this year. In addition, Michael Bruce, owner of Michael Bruce Florist in Pennsauken, found a unique way to turn a traditional offering from house guests into something that benefits a variety of local charities.

“I noticed an over abundance of wine bottles that had accrued when guests would bring us a house present.  From then on, I asked people to bring us an unwrapped child’s toy instead of a bottle of wine,” explains Bruce. “Every present we brought over for Pennsauken’s Angel Tree program represents what would have been a bottle of wine. So our houseguests are still spreading cheer in their own way!”

“We thank each and every person, business, and community group that made the Angel Tree program a tremendous success,” says Betsy McBride, mayor of Pennsauken Township for 2017. “Our town is filled with generous people who truly care about their neighbors. It’s a wonderful way to cap off the season of giving and the perfect start to a new year.”


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