The Flagler Christmas Angels Project combined efforts of agencies and individuals in Flagler.
Christmas is a time of giving, but for those who have been struck by the bad economy, it’s not always easy to give.
This year, the Christmas Angels Project, coordinated by Flagler County Schools, brought together partners from all over Flagler County to provide toys for more than 3,100 children in the area.
Two days before last Christmas, Katrina Townsend, student services director for Flagler County Schools, sat in her office with a struggling family with crying children.
Townsend said she thought, “There has to be a different way to work this — to take less resources a lot further in a needy community.”
With 56% of students in Flagler County receiving free or reduced lunch, Townsend knew this would be a challenge. And that’s when the Flagler Christmas Angels Project began.
Townsend and her team asked Flagler agencies, churches and groups to list all Flagler County families who needed assistance for the holidays into one central, countywide database, with the goal to provide each child with Christmas gifts and prevent abuse of the system.
The new database allows for each individual group to register families in need and the Angels Project to find a provider for them through partners or individuals.
“I’m really excited that Flagler County started the Christmas Angels program this year because it allowed all providers to work together on one database,” said Roseanne Stocker, founder of Project Share. “Everyone working from the same system creates less stress for families, who can register once with the schools and be assured they’ll be provided for.”
Project Share, which was founded 11 years ago, originally provided for children in the Pearson area. As the project expanded, it began to provide Christmas toys for children in Flagler County, also. Project Share provided gifts for 1,300 children this year in the two counties.
With 70 locations around the county, Toys for Tots also joined the project to help coordinate the charitable efforts.
“The whole move toward cooperation has been so good,” said Dorothy Sperber, coordinator for Toys for Tots. “It’s what the county had needed for a long time.”
Not only did Christmas Angels provide for needy families through agencies, but families and individuals throughout the county also adopted groups.
One Flagler schools cafeteria worker adopted 10 teenagers and provided them each with gift cards, Townsend said.
“There was an enormous outpouring of support of the project from the community,” Stocker said.