Angels for Children got its start in tragedy. Twelve years ago, a fire destroyed the interior of a family's home and their possessions during the week of Christmas.
The Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad asked for donations of toys and cash for the children. The request for donations was so successful that there were extra toys to donate to other children in the community.
Now, Angels for Children has grown beyond that one family into a yearly tradition of bringing presents to children whose families are struggling, in the hope of making their Christmas a memorable one. This year, they hope to hand out presents to 300 children in the Wheaton area.
The rescue squad now partners with the Wheaton-Kensington Chamber of Commerce and the Montgomery Housing Partnership to expand their drop-off point for donations and organize the Christmas Eve event where Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive in Wheaton to hand out the presents. They don't come by sleigh, but by fire engine.
The truck drives around the triangle of Blueridge, Amherst and Elkin, making stops at each housing development, knocking on doors and going back to the engine for more presents.
However, it can't be done without donations. Angels for Children suggests the following items for donations:
- New toys unwrapped, everything from board games and sports equipment to dolls, trucks, craft kits and books.
Many of their donations come for children ages 4 to 11, but they still need gifts for other ages.
- For teens, think gift cards, bath and lotion baskets, jewelry, purses, hat/glove/scarves, small electronic gifts, basketballs, soccer balls, books, journals and age appropriate craft kits.
- For infants, age appropriate (under 3 yrs. old) toys and books.
- Cash is always accepted. Donations can be sent to the Wheaton & Kensington Chamber of Commerce, 2401 Blueridge Ave., Suite 101, Wheaton, MD 20902
This is also a volunteer opportunity, specifically to help wrap the gifts during Saturdays in December and deliver toys on Christmas Eve at 6 p.m. Lesia Bullock, the coordinator of the project for Montgomery Housing Partnerships is also looking for volunteer drivers with trucks, SUVs, or cargo vans for pickup and delivery of drop boxes to and from the storage facility.
"Because this is mostly done by volunteers, we need people who can give an hour or two the week before," Bullock said, adding that volunteers who hand out gifts during Christmas Eve always enjoy the evening.
Toys and gift cards can be dropped off at 12 different locations in the area:
Acorn Self Storage: 11015 West Ave, Kensington, MD 20895. Contact Dyon Polk, 301-933-8838.
Avendra: 702 King Farm Blvd., Suite 600, Rockville, MD 20850. Contact Christina Cyphers, 866-283-6372.
Jerry Thompson & Associates: 10 Post Office Rd, Forest Glen, MD 20910. Contact Kathleen Thompson, 301-565-8000.
Kensington Volunteer Fire Dept: 10620 Connecticut Ave, Kensington, MD 20895. Contact Mike Kelley & Shawn St. Claire, 301-929-8000.
The Universities at Shady Grove: Student Svcs Bldg 3, 9630 Gudelsky Dr, Rockville, MD 20850. Contact 301-738-6000.
Vizada, Inc: 1101 Wootton Parkway, 10th floor Rockville, MD 20852. Contact April de Bremond, 301-838-7725.