This time of year excites Bridget Brown of Lake Sumter Families because she knows foster children in her care are receiving extra help.
Having partnered with The Villages Recreation and Parks Department for the angel tree program for the previous 25 years, she understands the importance of its mission.
“Seeing the faces of those children when they open the gifts, you just can’t describe the feeling that comes upon you,” said Brown, secretary of Lake Sumter Families, a nonprofit organization working with foster children.
Through Dec. 15, angels can be picked up at eight regional recreation complexes throughout The Villages: La Hacienda, Mulberry Grove, Eisenhower, Lake Miona, Laurel Manor, Colony Cottage, Rohan and Fenney. All items must be unwrapped and returned to the nearest of those recreation complexes by Dec. 15. All items benefit foster children with Lake Sumter Families.
Dawna Dean, a recreation supervisor who is coordinating the program, said The Villages Recreation and Parks Department couldn’t wait to assist again this year.
“This is something we have done for 25 years,” she said. “We are so thrilled we are able to participate in this program, especially as it benefits local children in need. And bringing that joy to a family in need at the holiday season, we are thrilled to be part of it all.”
Any resident willing to help fulfill the child’s wishlist can choose from angels placed on tables throughout the recreation complexes. Dean suggests individuals and groups take a look at the angels but doesn’t expect all items to be purchased. After items are purchased, the group or individual should return all items in a large shopping bag or gift bag.
“We want to provide them with one of the best holiday seasons yet,” she said.
Each angel contains a list with clothing sizes and a few specific items the child has asked for.
“Although we will not see the look on the families’ faces when they open their gifts, the thought of helping someone in need is what brings joy to our hearts,” Dean said.
Brown will pick up all items Dec. 16 and will distribute the items to the foster families.
For more information about the trees, visit districtgov.org.
“Having been a foster parent myself, this program is amazing because it still provides the children with what they need or ask for, while continuing to link the families with the community,” she said. “The Villages is a very giving season and with the holidays, each person helping is like one of Santa’s elves.”
Senior writer Andrea Davis can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5374, or firstname.lastname@example.org.