Vinita's Angel Tree Project

Monday, November 6th 2006, 10:41 am
By: News On 6

The Salvation Army helps provide toys to kids through its Holiday Angel Tree Program. But in Vinita, it almost didn't happen this year, because they didn't have their usual volunteers.

News on 6 reporter Steve Berg says thankfully, new volunteers have stepped in to help. Leading the way is a woman who knows exactly why the program is so important.

Dawn Gorton was ready to volunteer for the Angel Tree Program back in July, but when she went to the Department of Human Services office, "they said, nope, we're not doing it. We're not doing the Angel Tree this year. And it kinda floored me."

With staff cutbacks, they didn't have enough people. That's where Dawn and a busload of Girl Scouts come in. She rallied the troops, or in this case, Daisies and Brownies, to take over the job of distributing the angels to area businesses.

Each angel has a number to designate the anonymous family, and then lists the kind of toy or gift they need. People who see it can then adopt the family.

Dawn says it makes her feel great to be able to help, because two years ago, she was one of those anonymous families. "My son was very ill for quite some time, and we couldn't figure out what was wrong,” said Gorton. "I just started a new job. I just moved here from a big town in Virginia. I moved to small town Oklahoma didn't know anybody. My husband was a full-time college student and the funds were very, very limited."

The money and the health problems are now behind them, but Dawn says the Angel Tree Program left a deep impression, "My daughter can tell you she got an Easy Bake Oven and my son can tell you he got Spiderman toys which is what they asked for."

The Girl Scouts are happy to help, "because those little kids that don't get presents are really sad. I would be sad if I didn't get presents," one Girl Scout said. And so is Dawn, "I vowed to my husband and said one day I'm going to give back to the community the way they've given to me."

The Salvation Army helps around 500 kids around Vinita. If for some reason there aren't enough people to adopt families, Dawn says the Salvation Army should have enough money to buy gifts for everyone.