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Greenwich Daily Voice serves Greenwich, CT

Greenwich Angel Tree Brings Christmas to Needy

GREENWICH, Conn. – Alison Brush picked up a wrapped present from a pile of carefully sorted gifts at Greenwich Town Hall and handed it to an eager looking young girl. “Don’t open this yet,” she said. “You have to wait until Christmas.”

Brush, the community gifts program coordinator for the Department of Social Services, has headed up the town’s Angel Tree program for the past 18 years. Since the economy fell into recession, there has been more need for donated presents.

“We’ve definitely seen more demand,” said Brush. “But luckily the agencies always seem to want to do more.”

The Greenwich Town Meeting Hall room was filled with more than 700 gifts stacked in chairs and lined up against walls, waiting for families to pick them up for Christmas.

“Most of the families say they wouldn’t have much or anything to give their children if it wasn’t for this,” said Brush.

Caseworkers gather requests from clients. Typically, families ask for clothes or toys, Brush said.

“We do try to say no-brand name things and at a reasonable request for donors who may not even be able to afford much themselves,” said Brush.

Social Services provides ornaments with names of children to be displayed on trees at local churches, businesses, and other organizations. People can then pick an ornament off the tree with a child's name and gift wish for Christmas. The department then collects the gifts, organizes them according to family, and distributes.Different town organizations put up these trees during December, including St. Paul Roman Catholic Church, Edgewood Travel, First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich, Greenwich Educational Association, Greenwich High School, Stanwich School, Greenwich Hospital, Hyatt Regency Hotel, and Greenwich Municipal Credit Union.

“The agencies want to do it. They get so much from it,” said Brush. “All of them are repeat groups. It becomes part of their annual Christmas giving.”

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