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11/16/2012 3:35:00 PM
Angel Tree is up in Stokesdale
Annual project to help those in need embodies Christmas spirit
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How You Can Help
Select an Angel from the Angel Tree at the Stokesdale Fire Department or at the BB&T in Oak Ridge. Or, email Patti Stokes at to request an angel. Return wrapped and labeled gifts for your "angel" by Dec. 15.

Donate food or money. Call Terri Johnson at 643-5887 to help Good Samaritan Ministries by donating food or money.

Good Samaritan Ministries will hold a Thanksgiving worship service at Stokesdale Christian Church at 7 p.m. on Nov. 20.

By Thomas Lester

The simple act of choosing an angel can change a child's Christmas.

As it has for the past several years, Good Samaritan Ministries is organizing its annual Angel Tree. The tree was put up on Nov. 16 at the Stokesdale Fire Department (8401 U.S. 158 in Stokesdale), and angels with details about Christmas presents for needy children in the northwest community can be picked up there or at the BB&T in Oak Ridge.

Each angel will be for a boy or girl of a certain age and represents a request for one gift. The gifts stay in the northwest community, as each angel represents a child within 10 miles of a church that participates with Good Samaritan Ministries.

Good Samaritan Ministries' volunteer Terri Johnson coordinates the Angel Tree project. She says that givers come from all walks of life and many do it to show their children that it's important to be generous to those who have fallen on hard times.

"A lot of them select angels that are the same age as their children so they can teach their children to give back and teach them that there are people who are less fortunate," Johnson says. "A lot of people are grandparents who can't stand to see a child go without a Christmas present. Some Sunday school classes adopt entire families."

Those who contribute to the Angel Tree are truly blessed with the Christmas spirit, she says.

"I think the givers get more than receivers. A lot of people say it's not Christmas until they do the Angel Tree. That's a part of their Christmas."

While the givers get much, Johnson says those who receive are able to provide the joy that every child should experience around Christmastime. It's an emotional time when families come to get their presents, she says.

"Some of the people who receive from the Angel Tree call me and say the presents were wonderful and their children had a great Christmas because of Good Samaritan Ministries," Johnson says. "Most of them are crying when they pick up the presents because they're thankful their children are going to have a great Christmas. They are tears of joy and thankfulness."

It's a busy time of year for Good Samaritan Ministries. Johnson says in 2011, more than $20,000 in donations was spent in helping folks pay for their power bills, heating oil, prescription medicine and to help them get caught up on late rent payments.

"It's just from donations," Johnson says. "If not for the community donating and helping us out, we couldn't do it."

Additionally, Johnson says the ministry's food pantry can always use help. The pantry, which is open the last Tuesday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon at the Stokesdale Business Center, goes through food quickly. She says it's not unusual for the line to be out the door of the business center by 9:15 a.m.

Numerous churches and schools help out with food drives. Last year, the bus drivers at Northern High School and Northwest High School challenged each other to collect food. Johnson says a number of families budget to help the food pantry each month.

"There are people in the community who donate to that on a regular basis. Parents incorporate it as a way to teach their children to give back," she says.

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