County children in foster homes, shelters and other "homes away fromhome" are being remembered this holiday season with the help of county employees and the Angel Tree program.
The 5-year-old countywideprogram provides Christmas gifts for needy children through 29 Christmas trees placed in county offices. The trees are decorated with angels that bear a child's name.
The police department, for example, has six trees, one in each district station plus the Millersville headquarters and the Criminal Investigation Division in Crownsville, department coordinator Nancy Silwick said.
Beside the child's name, each angel card has the child's age and a gift idea.
Duffel bags or clothing are good gifts, Silwick said, "because these kids are pretty transient."
Combining all the trees, the police department will provide gifts for 125 children, Silwick said.
Michele Kirby, who works in the county finance department and is the angel tree program coordinator, said Anne Arundelemployees will be providing gifts for about 1,200 children this year. The program receives names from the Department of Social Services and the Holiday Sharing Program, a network of churches and other organizations that seeks out donors for the needy.
After people buy their gift, they place it under the tree and it will either be distributed by Holiday Sharing to the child or given away at a party Dec. 18 at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge.
Kirby said the program has grown since she started it five years ago.
"Now, we have people calling us and asking us if they can participate," she said.
Safeway, America West Airlines and the First Virginia Bank in Crofton have asked to participate in the program.
"It's great to get all this publicity," Kirby said.
Kirby said she came up with the idea when she saw an angel tree at a bank five years ago.
"I thought it would be a good idea to do it here," she said. "We contacted social services and foster care. We started out very small, with only 150 names."