Summit County Adopt an Angel program distributes toys to children Tuesday | SummitDaily.com

Summit County Adopt an Angel program distributes toys to children Tuesday

The spread is impressive, and the list is in hand. All that's left now is to distribute the hundreds upon hundreds of toys that have been neatly sorted by age group and set up at the Silverthorne Pavilion for what's become one of the biggest charitable drives in Summit County.

Entering its 23rd year, the Adopt an Angel program is expected to help 930 children in need wake up to a little extra Christmas cheer this go-round, according to the Family and Intercultural Resource Center, which manages the campaign.

The children's families were referred to FIRC by various community agencies, from local schools to the Head Start program, and their parents were each given specific time slots today to swing by the pavilion to pick up the presents.

Contrary to what some may think, the overarching goal is actually to drive the number of children supported through the program down to zero, said Kate Hudnut, who manages the Adopt an Angel program through her role at FIRC.

"Some of it is a Band Aid, and we're fully aware of that," she said of the toy drive. "It's to bring some cheer for a very short period of time during the holidays, but one of the shifts we have made since FIRC took it over, is we are trying to get as many of those children through our office as we can."

Hudnut said FIRC can help many of these families out with things like budget planning, job hunting or food assistance, and the toys present an opportunity for FIRC to meet some of these families, perhaps for the first time.

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In addition to the presents, gift-wrappers will also be on hand on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at the pavilion to make the presents pop, and FIRC also has some warm winter coats and other basic-needs items for any of the families who might need them.

The more than 900 children who will receive toys through the Adopt an Angel program stand as a testament to the overwhelming need in the county and growth of the program, said Hudnut, explaining that FIRC took over the program two years ago after it outgrew its original handlers at the Silverthorne Police Department.

"They started by literally driving around the county with toys in their trunk and giving them out on Christmas Eve," Hudnut recalled of the program's humble beginnings.

"(Now) it just takes a force of people," she continued, adding that FIRC is well versed at rounding up volunteers and has the staff to handle a program of such magnitude.

Silverthorne Police Department Sgt. David Siderfin, who previously ran the program and oversaw its transition, said he's happy to see how far it's come since and believes FIRC has just the right people to carry it forward.

"It's in a good place," he said in between helping set up at the pavilion. "FIRC has done a fantastic job. It looks fantastic here. They've done the hardest part, and the best part is when we get to give it all away."

Angel trees were then set up at about two-dozen local businesses and agencies around Summit County, and a large number of people pulled tags from the trees and went shopping. After buying toys, those same people dropped the items off at either a local police or fire department in Summit County, or at the Silverthorne or Breckenridge recreation centers.

FIRC then counts the number of toys available for any given age group and compares that to the number of children who have been referred to them for the toy drive. A last-minute shopping trip fills in any gaps, Hudnut said.

Once the shopping is complete, the toys are sorted by age groups and laid out at the pavilion, though Hudnut said they've learned from previous years to stagger the items they put out so nothing gets picked over before others have had their chance to pick out some toys. The result, she said, is there is no bad time to stop by.

For more about the program or to make a donation, call 970-262-3888 or go to SummitAngel.org. Donations are processed by FIRC and are tax-deductible. Also, volunteers for clean up are needed Tuesday and Wednesday.