“Angels” bring Christmas cheer to 1,400 children

“Angels” bring Christmas cheer to 1,400 children

Every Christmas, the generosity of the community never fails to amaze those involved with the “Angels” programme, which brings smiles and joy to needy children with “surprise gifts from Santa”.
Children’s charity ACCA, which supports underprivileged youngsters in homes and institutions across the Algarve, as well as those living below the poverty line, has been running the Angels programme since 2001.
ACCA President Wanda Crawford was involved in a similar venture in her native USA via her country club in Atlanta, Georgia. “We had a Christmas tree in the club house, decorated with colourful little angels, each one bearing the name and Christmas wish of a child from a local shelter for the homeless. Club members took a name, purchased a gift and addressed it to the child from Santa.”
Wanda shared the concept with ACCA’s then president, Jane Oliphant, and committee member Jackie Quirk took the project on board, adapting it to best suit the needs of institutions here in the Algarve.
From October onwards, Jackie’s garage and Curiosa’s warehouse become the distribution centres for a vast number of gifts, ready for delivery to the various homes.
“This year, we have been able to give presents to 1,415 children,” says a delighted Jackie. “I ask companies and individuals to be ‘Angels’, and they take charge of a list of names, to ensure that every request is filled. Some choose to enrol their friends, who between them buy hundreds of gifts, while others raise funds; this year we probably had close to €3,000 donated to the Angels’ programme, which included monies ACCA raised at Christmas fairs and Halloween. We went shopping too many times to count, but probably more than a hundred. We then do all the wrapping and labelling. It is a long job, but one that is overwhelmingly rewarding.”
How do people get to know about the Angels? “We produce posters and flyers, make phone calls and send emails and, of course, the support of the press makes all the difference when it comes to spreading the word,” says Jackie.
Top of the children’s wish-list this year has been dolls for the girls and remote control cars for the boys. No surprises there! But what does surprise Jackie is the number of people who came forward and volunteered to help. “There are people I never met before who took more than 30 names of children, and then came back for additional names. They are the ones that make the Angels programme the success that it is, and my heartfelt thanks go to them all,” Jackie added.
100% of funds raised by ACCA go to the causes the charity supports, which include specialised medical treatment for needy youngsters, work required at various institutions, and the supply of essential clothing and foodstuffs to homes and to families living below the poverty line. Sponsors and volunteers allow the charity to continue its good work.
To find out more about ACCA’s work, contact Wanda at [email protected] or Jackie at [email protected]