Archive for Thursday, November 29, 2007

Angel Tree beckons for holiday giving

November 29, 2007

The holiday season has begun and the city of Lansing is doing what it can to bring some extra holiday cheer to its residents.

It's that time of year again for the city's 15th annual Angel Tree drive to assist local families in need of a little extra help this holiday season.

Earlier this month, tags were hung on the Christmas tree in the lobby of City Hall, 800 First Terrace. Each tag contains the wish list of local children of underprivileged families. The tags can be taken off and gifts can be purchased by community members.

City Clerk Sunshine Petrone, right, and Assistant City Clerk Jennifer VerVoort hang tags on the Angel Tree in the lobby of City Hall, 800 First Terrace. Lansing residents can take a tag, which contains a Christmas wish list of a local underprivileged child, and purchase the items as a gift that will be then be distributed before Christmas.

City Clerk Sunshine Petrone, right, and Assistant City Clerk Jennifer VerVoort hang tags on the Angel Tree in the lobby of City Hall, 800 First Terrace. Lansing residents can take a tag, which contains a Christmas wish list of a local underprivileged child, and purchase the items as a gift that will be then be distributed before Christmas.

"There are people who are less fortunate that fall on hard times, so as a city, we want to give back and do what we can for our residents," said City Clerk Sunshine Petrone.

Eight families, representing 20 children, requested Angel Tree assistance this year. Items on the families' wish lists range from clothing for the family to toys for the children. The city also will be accepting canned goods and monetary donations that will be used to purchase grocery store gift cards.

Petrone said she was sure the community would embrace the Angel Tree drive. As in years past, every child on the list would receive presents that they may otherwise not have gotten.

"I think Lansing as a whole is very community oriented," she said. "We like to take care of everyone in the community and help out when needed."

Mayor Kenneth Bernard said the Angel Tree program was a great way to give back to the less fortunate. He said the program has been good for the community and that through the years, he's received letters from the children who were given the presents, expressing their appreciation and thanks.

"There are a lot of families in town who do not have a lot and can't afford to buy their kids presents," Bernard said. "And we think it's important that each kid be given something on Christmas."

The city also works with the Lansing Correctional Facility to get bikes for the children who don't already have one. Petrone said the LCF would donate bikes from its Bike Giveaway Program.

Tags from the Christmas tree and the purchased unwrapped presents should be returned to City Hall by Monday, Dec. 10. The Lansing Lions and Kiwanis clubs will then distribute the items to the families on Friday, Dec. 14.

Also in keeping with the holiday spirit, the city will host, in conjunction with Lansing PRIDE, the annual Mayor's Christmas Tree lighting at 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, at the Lansing Community Center, 800 First Terrace.

City Administrator Mike Smith said the ceremony was a great opportunity for people to present their donations to the Mayor's Christmas Tree Fund adding to the giving nature of the holiday season. He said the event was always packed with community members, estimating more than 200 people attend the yearly event.

"I think it's a good time for people to come together in the community," he said.

Entertainment at the event will include performances by the Lansing High School Sound Spectrum and Katie's Dance Studio. There will be free hot chocolate, coffee, cookies and of course, the lighting of city's Christmas tree.

Smith said this year may be the last for the city to use the same tree that's been used in previous years. He said it was a gorgeous tree but was getting too big to decorate. A new tree has already been planted that Smith said would be used in the future once it grows a little more.

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