(Colleen Stonemetz managed the program this year, and we asked her for a summary of the success. Here it is!)
The project started in 2012 and 75 angel tags were placed on the tree for 4 families. That year we delivered 75 + gifts as each tag was returned with not just the item requested but an additional gift as well.
This year St Luke’s adopted 6 families ( about 11 adults and 23 children ) and this grew to over 16 families with many children. 720 angel tags were placed on the tree, and again 720 + gifts were returned. It took 5 car loads to deliver the packages to the Retreat. My full sized SUV was filled four times and Fr. Gerardo’s full sized 4 door pickup truck was filled once for deliveries.
The staff at the Retreat would say,
“You’re back again! We can’t believe the generosity of St Luke’s parishioners!”
With this many gifts, there was no way to count the exact number of gifts delivered, but I think we can easily say it was probably in the 1200 to 1500 range. As again, one tag was removed from the tree and more often than not, two or more gifts were returned.
Fr. Brunelle was instrumental in bringing the idea of an Angel Tree to St. Luke’s back in 2012, and we can see that with each passing year the project is getting larger. The generosity of St. Luke’s has stayed the course and successfully responded to the ever growing needs of the community.
In correspondence I have received form the Retreat we can see what a huge impact our participation brings to those who have unfortunately become victims of domestic violence. Children often feel forgotten to the point where Christmas isn’t a holiday filled with excitement and joy. However, through the success of the program they quoted a child who was happy to have Santa remember him and his family. The adults who are working hard to sustain the basic needs of their families often can’t think about the “extra” little items which would make their lives easier. Emails from the Retreat have also include the responses from adult clients who are truly overwhelmed by the generosity of the not only St. Luke’s but the East Hampton community at large. They are often brought to tears upon seeing Christmas delivered to their families, and knowing that it’s not simply about the gifts, but the knowing that someone cares.
Overall, St. Luke’s participation in the Angel Tree project not only provides reflection and thanks for our own lives, but also provides us each with the unique opportunity to help our neighbors in need.
All the best in the New Year,