Karing for Kids Angel Trees are now in place in dozens of locations around Huntington and Wells counties, giving area residents the opportunity to share Christmas joy with a child in need.
"We have approximately 750 children from 275 families from Huntington and Wells counties that we are assisting this year," says Rhonda O'Reilly, president of Karing for Kids.
O'Reilly and her husband Tim founded the organization 10 years ago in memory of their daughter Jennifer, who died in a car accident in 2004, patterning it after a similar organization in Logansport. They continue to spearhead the project in conjunction with the Markle Church of Christ.
Angel Trees have been placed in nearly 70 locations across the two counties. Each tree is decorated with paper angels, and each angel lists one gift request for one child.
Community members are invited to select an angel from the tree, purchase that gift and return the gift to any of the tree-hosting locations no later than Tuesday, Dec. 4.
Once all the gifts are returned, each child will receive two toys or fun items, clothing, pajamas, shoes, coat, socks and underwear. The child's family will also receive a Christmas meal box, coordinated by Life Church in Bluffton; a Bible donated by the Markle Church of Christ; and a Christmas story book donated by Ideals Publications.
Cash donations are also needed to purchase gifts listed on angels that are not taken from the trees.
"Last year, we spent nearly $20,000 on gifts after all the adopted angel gifts were returned," O'Reilly says.
"This is only possible by those businesses, organizations and community individuals who send us monetary donations."
O'Reilly notes that while the number of children being served has increased this year, monetary donations are down by about half.
Monetary donations may be sent to Karing for Kids at 1481W-100N, Bluffton, IN 46714. Karing for Kids is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization, so gifts are tax deductible.
There are also other ways to help, O'Reilly notes.
"We are in need of many volunteers for wrapping and delivery," she says. "We have a Santa go deliver the gifts, so we need volunteers who would dress as Santa as well as people to drive along and transport the gifts. We have the Santa suits, just need the people to fill them."
Volunteers can also help sort the more than 6,000 gifts on Dec. 9 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.; and wrap gifts Dec. 14 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and all day on Dec.15, beginning at 9 a.m. Sorting and wrapping will take place at the Markle Church of Christ, 455 E. Morse St., Markle.
Gifts will be delivered on Dec. 16 beginning at 1:30 p.m.
Children served by the organization have been referred by local school counselors and social service agencies.
To volunteer, contact O'Reilly at rjoreilly@dish  mail.net or 273-0716.
Locations of Angel Trees in Huntington County are:
Andrews - Andrews Elementary School.
Huntington - Central Christian Church, Crestview Middle School, First Brethren Church, First Farmers Bank & Trust, Flint Springs Elementary School, Huntington County Community Schools administrative offices, iAB Financial Bank, Kmart, Lancaster Elementary School, Lincoln Elementary School, Northview Church of Christ, Northwest Elementary School, Orscheln Farm and Home, Salamonie Mills (Simpson Grain), St. Peter Lutheran Church and Teachers Credit Union.
Markle - Crossroads Pantry, Dairy Queen, iAB Financial Bank, Markle Church of Christ, Markle Health and Rehabilitation, Novae Corporation and TurnPointe Community Church,
Roanoke - iAB Financial Bank, Roanoke Brethren Church and Roanoke Elementary School.
Warren - iAB Financial Bank, Salamonie Elementary School and Warren Church of Christ.
Zanesville - County Line Pizza.
For more information, visit www.karingforkids.us .
Complete caption: Rhonda O’Reilly, left, coordinator of the Karing for Kids program, and Alma Woodward, a resident of Markle Health & Rehabilitation, place paper angels on a tree at Markle Health on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Each angel bears a gift request for one of the approximately 750 children in Huntington and Wells counties that Karing for Kids plans to help this Christmas. Similar trees have been placed in various locations throughout both counties, and community members are invited to take a paper angel and fulfill one of the wishes.