As previously reported by the Chinook Observer, the Long Beach Grange was facing the discontinuation of their 27-year “Christmas Angel” program after the organization recently closed its Bingo operations.
The Christmas Angel program encourages needy familes to phone in requests for moderately-priced holiday gifts for their children. The requests are turned into paper angels and hung on trees in local banks during the holiday season. Community members then choose an angel from the tree, purchase the gift, wrap it and place it beneath the tree in the bank, labeled for the child. Gifts are typically toys and clothing, in the $20-$50 range.
In 2008, Grange members served 114 families through the program, including approximately 300 children. More than 200 of the gifts were provided by anonymous community members. The balance were provided by the Grange, thanks, in part, to area merchants offering discounts for Angel shopping.
Long-time Christmas Angel volunteer Shirley Pryor-Pyne was devastated at the thought of the program ending. “I just couldn’t see such a good thing disappear from our community,” Pryor-Pyne lamented. “I’ve been a member of the Peninsula Rotary club, nearly since it began. I knew it would be a good fit for the club to take it over.”
With faith in her Rotary club and conviction for the Christmas Angel program in her pocket, Pryor-Pyne presented the idea and it was greeted wholeheartedly. “This is absolutely within the mission of our club and Rotary International” said Dick Fisher, club President. “Our club motto is ‘Service Above Self’ and we join Rotarians around the world in service projects locally and globally”.
On July 20th, Grange Master Opal Oseth and Secretary Kathy Carbone attended the regular meeting of the Rotary club to pass the torch of the program. “We’ll still volunteer and be part of it,” Oseth smiled “and they can use the Grange facility when the time comes. We’re so happy that Rotary has taken ownership so the community won’t lose its Christmas Angels!”.
Also present on the 20th was Joyce Wingett, President of the local chapter of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC). Founded in 1890, GFWC is an international women’s organization dedicated to community improvement by enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service. The local chapter has been involved in dozens of local and international projects. “We’re pleased to announce that we’ll be making a significant contribution to Rotary for use in the local Christmas Angel program this year.” Wingett beamed. “We do need members and invite interested women to join us on August 21st at Chen’s, noon, for our next meeting and to find out more about our organization.”
The Peninsula Rotary club meets weekly for breakfast, fellowship and a half-hour presentation by a guest speaker. Club members welcome guests interested in learning more about Rotary, or who would simply like to enjoy the week’s program. Breakfast is $10. Commitment is zero.
SW Pacific County Peninsula Rotary meets Tuesday mornings, 7:30 am, at the 42nd Street Cafe in Seaview. Contact Dick Fisher for more information: 360.642.3045 or suecloud @ earthlink.net. General Federation of Women’s Club President Joyce Wingett can be reached at 360.665.2510 or bjwing @ centurytel.net.