Almost 800 kids to receive gifts through Silverthorne program
December 2, 2015
Silverthorne's Adopt an Angel program might be one of the largest gift exchanges across the county. While last year's exchange helped provide gifts for 562 children, this year's exchange will be even bigger.
Silverthorne police sergeant Misty Higby said nearly 800 local children were registered through agencies such as the Family and Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC), Social Services and the Summit County School District. In other words, the department will help more than 300 families put presents under the tree.
"We have never had anything like that, ever," she said. "It's a crazy amount of people."
Individual donations and the help of a few local businesses drive the large gift exchange. Throughout the county, stores will display a Christmas tree with wooden angels displaying the age and gender of a child.
Summit County residents can pick up an ornament, purchase a gift and bring it unwrapped to local fire, police and ambulance departments. Both the "angel" and the gift must be delivered by Friday, Dec. 11.
"Every year, it makes a difference in the type of Christmas kids are able to have," FIRC development and volunteer director Anita Overmyer said.
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The age range for donations is from infants to 15 year-old-children. Once the presents have been gathered, they will be lined up in the Silverthorne Pavilion for parents of the approved families to choose from based on their children's interests on Dec. 16.
"Starting the 14th, we will make the Silverthorne Pavillion look like a toy store," Silverthorne Police Chief Mark Hanschmidt said. "We want to make sure we're getting all these gifts to right folks, to children who are in need."
After the parents pick out the gifts, volunteers upstairs will wrap them and they can take them home to put under the tree.
"It creates a positive bond with Fire, EMS and Law Enforcement with members of our community," he said.
In previous years, each child received one large present, sport equipment or a stuffed animal and an article of clothing, with clothing and books being in particularly high demand. But with this year's numbers, that will be difficult to provide.
The program is also supported by monetary donations, which can be made online or by dropping off cash or a check at the Silverthorne Police Department. Hanschmidt said the department used $3,000 to purchase new coats, snow pants, boots, hats and gloves on Black Friday.
He added that the outlets had given them an additional 25 percent discount, and All Valley Storage provided a free locker filled with toys, bikes, santa suits and wrapping paper.
"It's one more piece of the puzzle where everyone is helping out, which makes it easy," he said. "This community is so great — everyone helps and supports this program."
The Adopt an Angel program started in 1994, with officers originally delivering presents directly to the doors of Silverthorne families. After the first year, the department received requests from country residents outside of the town and expanded their "secret Santa" duties
"Obviously, we have a high demand," Higby said. "It's based on helping our community, and there's a need out there that a lot of people are not aware of."
With a large number of gift recipients this year, she said both donations and volunteers would be appreciated. The department will need volunteers to help families pick and wrap gifts the afternoon of Wednesday, Dec. 16. To sign up, call the Silverthorne Police Department at (970) 262-7320.
"Whatever anyone is willing to do, we would gladly take," she said.
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