Angel Tree Provides Gifts for 250 Children

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SOMERSWORTH — About 250 local children will have something special to open this Christmas thanks to some very generous local businesses.

For the past eight years, Seeds of Faith has been running its Angel Tree program providing Christmas gifts to children in need.

Laura Richmond, campaign coordinator, said a community can make the difference. This year was the first time they were able to "adopt out" all the children’s wish lists.

“We would like to send out a big thank you to all of the individuals, volunteers and businesses that helped make this happen,” Richmond said.

Organizers placed a tree in the New Beginnings Thrift Shop in Somersworth and covered it with paper mittens. Each mitten represented a child in need and had their age, gender and wish list.

Several area businesses stepped up to “adopt” children; but with only a week to go, there were still about 50 mittens on the tree.

Amelia McCarthy, the volunteer leading the program, said they were trying not to panic. To have to buy the remaining gifts would have cost about $2,500 and placed a real burden on the nonprofit, which also runs a food pantry and provides homeless outreach.

“We were praying for God to make a way for these angels to be taken up,” McCarthy said.

Rosemary Gelinas, corporate H.R. manager for General Linen Service, LLC, of Somersworth, said the company had already donated 100 blankets for the homeless, was collecting canned goods and thinking of taking 10 or 20 of the remaining 50 children.

“At our holiday party, my boss came in and asked how many children (still needed gifts). I told him 50 and he said let’s take them all,” said Gelinas.

Gelinas left a message at Seeds of Faith asking for the remaining mitten wish lists to be scanned and e-mailed. But within 20 minutes volunteers had hand-delivered the mittens.

“We absolutely rejoiced,” McCarthy said. “It was such a relief. ... Rosemary went through the lists and did an amazing job. There was so much love. She labeled each gift. It was amazing. We were beyond blessed.”

Gelinas said shopping for the children was a blast. “We went to Walmart with one of the big trucks and had eight or ten shopping cartloads,” Gelinas said. “It was tiring, but a blast.”

“I am just thrilled that we were able to do this," Gelinas said. “The company owners Shane and David Drolet just went above and beyond.”

Gelinas said this is one of the fun parts of her job.

Many of the children requested practical items, such as boots, socks, snow pants, which McCarthy said shows just how deep the need is. Some even asked for basics like hygiene supplies, sheets and blankets.

McCarthy’s daughter Carston organized the Angel Tree program by entering all of the requests into a spreadsheet, developing a coding system and organizing the shelves where the gifts were arranged prior to pick-up.

Other companies who purchased gifts included Heinemann Publishing of Portsmouth; Holy Rosary Regional Credit Union, Safran Aerospace Composites, and WealthWise Financial Management in Rochester; TradePort and Women’s Life Imaging Center in Somersworth; and Loco Coco’s Tacos, Kittery, Maine.

Volunteers helping to wrap and distribute the gifts came from the University of New Hampshire and Christian Life Church, Eliot.

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General Linen Service, LLC, Linen Supply Service, Somersworth, NH