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Posted: January 15, 2016

43 families touched by Angel Tree 2015

By Dan Schellenberg

Around the year 1989, Linda Birch, newly hired as marketing director at Tamarack Mall, introduced the idea of an Angel Tree to the mall administration, who in turn endorsed the plan. For many years, mall personnel handled the registration, hung angels on the trees, collected the gifts, sorted them and delivered them to the recipients.

Linda Birch
Linda Birch

Linda was actively involved in the Angel Tree program for the first years and then changed jobs. She did return to work at Tamarack Mall and by this time, there were local social agencies that became involved in carrying out the project. It was evident that the community of Cranbrook was supporting Angel Tree and that it was here to stay.

Jumping ahead to the year 2003, Linda put out a call for assistance with the program, as mall administration staff and other agencies involved were limited in the time they could devote to this successful and necessary program. The call was answered by the Cranbrook Sunrise Rotary Club, which continues to support the event by taking on a leadership role in this worthy endeavour.

Sunrise Rotary member Lorinda Nelson took on the Angel Tree project in 2014, as well as 2015. Lorinda chairs the committee that makes things happen in order to bring the project to fruition.

“I have chaired this project for a couple of years now and am responsible for the distribution of the registration forms to different organizations, as well as recorded the information once we receive the completed registrations,” she said.

Lorinda Nelson and Mark Pinnell. Photos courtesy Bill Gibbon
Lorinda Nelson and Mark Pinnell. Photos courtesy Bill Gibbon

The recording process is a detailed one and involves compiling a spreadsheet of every family and each child within that family. Also, included in the recording process is information regarding age, gender, sizes of clothing and gift ideas. “I assign a code to each child registered so that their identity is not revealed when we fill out the angel cards that are hung on the tree,” Lorinda said.

She goes on to say that the Angel Tree is then decorated with angel cards that hold the information of each child and the ‘good citizens of our community.’ In addition, some local businesses and community groups contribute and record their names on the Gift Giver record.

Lorinda gives an account of events, by stating that this year as in every other year, the Angel cards are selected and assigned within a week of placing them on the tree. When the gifts are bought, they are delivered to the Canadian Cancer Society gift-wrapping table, where they are wrapped. The gifts are then stored by the Tamarack Centre until it is time for distribution, just before Christmas.

“We have a group of Sunrise Rotarians who help sort the gifts by code and then we distribute the gifts to the families,” Lorinda explained.

A hearty congratulation goes out to the Sunrise Rotarians and their families who helped with this most worthwhile project this year, which yielded 108 Angels on the tree, representing 43 families: Lorinda Nelson, Penny Coyle, Shelley Balfour, Maggie Lindsay-Tadey, Megan Tadey, Mark Pinnell, Dennis Parsons, Mel McFarlane, Rick McFarlane, Shirley Gibbon, Bill Gibbon, Dewayne Penner, Janice Sommerfeld and Arlene Schroh.

Lead image: Angel Tree 2015 – in photo – Bill & Shirley Gibbon, Dewayne Penner, Lorinda & Jay Nelson.

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