38th annual Angel Tree program aims to help hundreds of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville children and youth

OPP tweeted this photo of members surrounding one of the Angel Trees. – OPP photo

In a heartwarming display of community spirit, the Lanark, Leeds, and Grenville Family and Children’s Services, in collaboration with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), has kicked off its 38th annual Angel Tree program with a record 840 angels gracing the trees this holiday season.

The “angels,” symbolizing children directly affiliated with Family and Children’s Services and related programs, are assigned to trees across Lanark County and surrounding areas. The primary objective is to ensure that each child receives a special Christmas gift. Additionally, the program has introduced a thoughtful option for contributors – the choice to purchase gift cards for teenagers or groceries for families through specially designed tags.

Communities within Lanark County have enthusiastically embraced this initiative since its inception. Municipal offices of Tay Valley, Lanark Highlands, Drummond-North Elmsley, Montague, Beckwith, the Town of Mississippi Mills, and the Pakenham Library have consistently supported the cause, with dedicated employees monitoring the trees and assisting in distributing the angels to the communities.

This year, the program has gained remarkable support from various community partners in Perth, including Albany, Eaton, Lanark County Administration, Wilson Street Auto Fleet & Tire, Spring Children, Perth Hospital, Perth Athletic Center, Lanark Dance Company, Perth Town Hall, and Uniglass Plus. In Carleton Place, Kirk Orthodontics, Walmart, Connect Well, Ricks Glass Medic and Tinting, The Studio School of Dance, and Heritage Dental have joined hands as community partners, extending the program’s reach within their workspaces and contributing significantly to its success.

In Smiths Falls, the OPP East Region Headquarters have continued their internal distribution of angels to OPP employees, while Rideau Home Hardware has stepped in as the community partner, furthering the program’s impact in the region.

Starting Oct. 31, Angel Trees adorned with “Angel Cards” have been distributed across various locations, allowing individuals eager to contribute to pick an angel. Organizers have urged participants to adhere to any prevailing COVID-19 restrictions, including mask mandates, when visiting these locations. The outpouring of support from the community this year is especially appreciated, given the challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic.

Contributors are encouraged to return their gifts, preferably unwrapped or in gift bags, to the designated tree locations before Dec. 1. Please affix the Angel Card securely to the gift and provide details of the gift contents on the back of the card for proper coordination.

In addition to physical gifts, the program welcomes monetary donations and new clothing/toy items. Lanark County OPP, with the invaluable assistance of Lanark County Crime Stoppers, will be collecting contributions from all locations on December 4th and 5th. These donations will be diligently delivered to Family and Children’s Services for distribution, ensuring that every angel’s wish comes true during this festive season.

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