Steven, 3. Jason, 1. Dionne, 1.
Their names and ages are scrawled onto paper angels that hang from the branches of the Campus Store Christmas tree, trying to catch the eyes of passersby and benefit from the generosity that comes with the holiday season.
Steven, Jason and Dionne are some of the 20 children who have yet to be selected to receive a gift in the Adopt an Angel program, the annual partnership between Brock and Community Care of St. Catharines and Thorold that sees donors playing Santa Claus to local children in need.
With only a week left in the campaign, Tacey Atkinson, the Campus Store’s technology specialist, remains hopeful that no angel will be left behind. When the campaign started earlier this month, 400 names adorned the tree.
That’s twice as many as last year with the drive running about half as long.
“I’ve reached out to every department. We have such a giving community and a large community, there should be no reason we can’t reach 400 kids,” Atkinson said. “When we were asked if we were up to the challenge, we said absolutely. We know we can do it.”
Atkinson has been doing her share in addition to convincing staff and students on campus to get involved with the toy drive. She has already purchased gifts for six children.
Her secret: coupons.
The self-professed bargain hunter scoured Facebook ads for coupons that enabled her to purchase toys and games worth $200 for only $30. She also hit up a department store clearance centre for some prize finds, too.
“I financially can’t afford to (buy gifts) for that many but couponing has allowed me to do that,” Atkinson said.
Her coupon clipping skills have also enabled her to stock up on about 80 pounds of mushroom soup for the food drive that kicks off Dec. 1 in support of the on-campus food bank. And that’s only the start of the donation that she’ll give.
“There’s actually a huge need in the student population and people don’t realize that,” Atkinson said.
In the meantime, though, her efforts are focused on lending Santa a hand and ensuring that not only is every angel taken from the tree but that every gift is returned to the Campus Store by next Monday for pick up by Community Care.
So far, only about one-quarter of the toys have been dropped off and there’s only one week left in the campaign.
To participate, visit the Campus Store and select an angel with a child’s name and age on it. Then simply purchase an age-appropriate gift and return it unwrapped to the store with the paper angel by end of day on Nov. 26. Additional gifts can be dropped off by those who don’t make it in to select an angel.
For those wanting to add a stocking stuffer or two, Community Care also needs new, unused warm winter accessories, such as mittens, gloves, hats, scarves, boots, coats, snowsuits, long underwear, pajamas, slippers and socks for its clients.