Angels Bearing Gifts gets an early start on the holidays—we have to. We shop for and deliver gifts to 200 people with developmental disabilities who don’t have families. And we stuff 200 stockings as well, stockings usually purchased online, made somewhere in the world by some company with no connection or even awareness of Angels Bearing Gifts.

This season Angel volunteers are creating hand made stockings. We put out the word: We need people who can sew stockings. We have material and patterns. Help us start a new tradition!

The response was immediate and enthusiastic. Volunteers with from previous years who had an emotional connection to Angels stepped up. School kids who with community service hours to fill jumped in. Ladies in church study groups gathered together in heartfelt purpose.

Using felt material in “Angel purple” with an assortment of trim to be applied in any number of creative ways, our stocking sewers are giving our beneficiaries the precious gift of something made by caring hands.

Zanita Marvin of the First Christian Church speaks for her group:
“We all feel that a “hands on” gift of our time and talent is a gift for us as well.”

Barbara Jones of the Church adds, “We know there are so many who have no families, no one to remember them at the holidays, but we never know who they are. So we appreciate what you do.”

Volunteers will fill the stockings with the little necessities our beneficiaries need like toothbrushes and tooth paste, flashlights, socks, a bag of quarters for laundry, shampoo and body wash, and drug store gift certificates.

Teresa Bothman, a teacher at the Santa Barbara Charter School, supervises home schooled students who are busy making stockings, putting their creative spin on the project. And finding meaning far beyond accumulating community service hours.

“My observations are that the students have really enjoyed the project and feel good about having something to give in terms of their time and effort. They have approached their work with a sense of satisfaction and enthusiasm,” Teresa reports.

“I really want to finish this stocking before Christmas,” a student was heard saying. “It would be really hard not to have any family to be with on a holiday.”

The holiday tradition of hanging stockings is thought to have originated in a folk tale from The Netherlands. A widower, poor and not in good health, worried about what would become of his three young daughters. He was known as a proud man, unwilling to accept charity. One night a nobleman looked in the window and saw the daughters hanging their socks above the fire to dry. He returned later that night after the fire went out, crept in through the window, and filled the socks with gold coins.

This season our beneficiaries will be more connected to our community than ever before and our community will have embraced the spirit of the Angel mission in a way that we hope will continue for many years to come.

And everyone had fun doing it. We at Angels Bearing Gifts never underestimate the power of fun in service to a good cause!

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