Angel Tree
Greg Jones, 39th Signal Battalion, takes an angel ornament from the Angel Tree in USAG Schinnen's PX.

SCHINNEN (Netherlands) - U.S. military personnel and federal employees are among the most generous givers in the U.S., according to the American Institute of Philanthropy. Those in the Tri-Border area of Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium are no exception, says Sylvia Bowron, USAG Schinnen's Angel Tree Project Manager.

Year after year, Bowron sees generous donations helping families in need throughout the local community. She has coordinated the joint Angel Tree project with Schinnen's Army Community Services and the Chapel for the last six years, but the project began decades ago.

"Angel Tree has become one of the most recognizable and popular holiday charity programs in this area," Ms. Bowron said.

"Just like in the states, the program here focuses on fulfilling specific needs of the less fortunate, but here we direct the donations entirely toward military personnel and family members in need. Maybe they've experienced a difficult year or had an emergency of some sort that wrecked their finances. Angel Tree gives that little extra boost to help them during the holidays," Ms. Bowron explained.

Brightly decorated Christmas trees, adorned with angel ornaments, symbolize the project. Each ornament lists an item needed by someone who has been selected as an Angel Tree recipient. Donors choose angel ornaments from the tree, purchase the items listed and bring them to any one of several drop locations around the area. There, volunteers sort, wrap and prepare the gifts for delivery to the individuals in need.

Last year's project collected over 240 gifts for 57 children in 22 families. At the suggestion of a donor, this year's angel ornaments will include some information about the individual's wishes or interests. This information is intended to help the donor select items that best meet the needs identified on the angel ornament, Bowron says.

"For example, if the angel ornament listed 'toy appropriate for 8 year old boy,' this year it will also say something like 'who loves Star Wars and Power Rangers'," Ms. Bowron said. For older kids, Bowron suggests gift certificates.

"It's the spirit of Christmas to give. When you give like that to someone you don't know, it puts a little special touch in your heart," Ms. Bowron said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16