Angel Tree drive under way

Published 6:40 pm Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s annual Christmas is for Kids Angel Tree Drive has begun and is expected to provide gifts for more than 500 children in its Section 8 and public housing programs.

Housing Operations Manager Michell Layne, who is coordinating the gift drive, said it received requests to provide gifts for 515 children — 42 from Cypress Manor Apartments, 45 from Parker Riddick Apartments, 26 from Colander Bishop Apartments, 50 from Hoffler Apartments and 352 from Section 8 housing.

“We are blessed,” Layne said. “And we are mostly all parents, and we know what Christmas means to children. And to have a child not be able to open up something, even the smallest of gifts on Christmas, personally, is a heartbreaking thing.”

Email newsletter signup

Layne said the authority sent out notices to all families in Section 8 or public housing at the end of October and asked them to fill out a registration form, asking for clothing sizes and a wish toy. Children up to age 17 were eligible to participate.

People who want to donate money or pick up an angel tag can do so at the SRHA office at 530 E. Pinner St. from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday until Dec. 12. The Angel Tree is set up in the office lobby.

“For the most part, the kids normally get the thing that they asked for,” Layne said. “And in the event that there’s something in which one of the gifts is out of the price range of the person doing the donation, they will actually do something else so that no child is left without having a gift. And in the end, if there is a child that we have not been able to serve, then at that point, the housing authority will step in and take care of it.”

The program has grown in the last few years, with 199 children receiving Angel Tree gifts in 2017, and more than 600 getting gifts last year.

“Last year, we had stuff left over that we were able use this year because we had so many people who donated to this cause,” said SRHA Executive Director Tracey Snipes. “So we’ve got a good start.”

Gift distribution will take place on Dec. 18-19.

“For us as an agency, we are so very much family oriented that we would like to do (something), even if it’s a small thing for Christmas,” Layne said, “to ensure that our communities and our children have a special Christmas.”