Annual Angel Tree Program Branches Out to Help Provide Presents Four Years in a Row
POMPTON PLAINS, NJ - In its continuing effort to reach out and assist those in need throughout the region, residents and staff from Cedar Crest took part in a very special holiday program, aimed at providing presents to children, and putting smiles on their faces.
The Salvation Army Angel Tree program is in its fourth year at Cedar Crest and in that time has yielded approximately 600 presents for children in Northern New Jersey, including this year's collection.
The program is very simple - Cedar Crest staff set up three Christmas trees in each of its three community clubhouses. The trees were adorned with tags on which were given to Cedar Crest by the Salvation Army. The tags indicate a present that a child wishes for and a resident chooses the tag and purchases the corresponding gift.
The gifts were sorted and packaged up by residents and staff before being picked up by the Northern New Jersey Chapter of the Salvation Army earlier today and the organization will distribute the items to the children.
This year's collection yielded at least 125 gifts. Some of the items collected, included stuffed animals, games, dolls, educational toys, costume jewelry and clothing.
"Giving is what it is all about," said Nina Romano, a Cedar Crest resident who participated in the Angel Tree program. "It is so important to help the children and a small gift will put a large smile on their face, and that is worth a million dollars. I am, and many residents are, more than glad to be a part of this annual program."
Cedar Crest Executive Director Cathy Guttman said, "Our residents and staff always look
forward to helping any worthwhile cause and fulfill a need right here in the community. It is at this time of year, however, that most of us turn out attention to the children who could use some holiday cheer, and knowing that a boy or girl will receive the present that they want is doubly gratifying. This was a great community-wide effort that not only exhibited kindness and compassion, but it was a collection drive that highlighted what volunteerism is all about."
"Our residents and staffers are extremely generous through and through," said Erica Zayat, Cedar Crest Community Services Manager. "Since the Angel Tree program began several years ago, our residents have not only contributed hundreds of presents but have provided hundreds of smiles for children throughout Northern New Jersey who received the gifts that they wished for."
"Without the donors, the Salvation Army would not be as effective as it is and, we wouldn't be able to service as many families as we do," New Jersey Salvation Army Field Representative Carol Wilson said. "It is a wonderful partnership that we have that makes life a little better for those who don't have as much, and our partnership with companies and communities such as Cedar Crest allow us to service many, many families."
Wilson said that there are hundreds of applications for family assistance in the seven counties that her branch of the Salvation Army services for the holidays.
The Angel Tree program is just one of the many volunteer efforts that Cedar Crest residents and staff take part in to help those in the region. Since Cedar Crest opened in 2001, residents and staff have volunteered their time, talents and donated funds to a variety of organizations. Some of which include:
• Healing the Children
• The Outpost Soup Kitchen
• American Red Cross
• Doctors Without Borders
• The Pequannock Food Pantry
Residents have also raised more than $750,000 for scholarship money for student employees who work in the community's restaurants. Also, more than $20,000 was raised by staff and residents in Haiti earthquake relief efforts.
Some other facts about volunteerism at Cedar Crest:
• Residents average approximately 300 sandwiches per month for the Outpost Soup Kitchen.
• Residents collected 2,500 pairs of shoes for the needy over the past several years.
• $1,200 in change was collected by residents for the group Pennies from Heaven last year.
• Residents average donations of 300 bags of food for the needy during Thanksgiving food
• collection drives.
For more information about the Salvation Army, please visit their website: http://www.use.salvationarmy.org/use/www_use_nj.nsf/
Approximately 2,000 people live at Cedar Crest, an Erickson Living full-service retirement community that promotes a vibrant lifestyle. Erickson Living develops and manages 16 full-service retirement communities that provide worry-free living for America's seniors - the country's fastest-growing population segment. Erickson Living's refundable entrance deposit and predictable monthly service fees provide residents across the country financial peace of mind. Comprehensive health and wellness services, integrated into every community, lead to demonstrated resident benefits. For more information, visit www.ericksonliving.com.