Angels drive gift program

A program coordinated by the Guilderland Chamber of Commerce will assist some struggling families this holiday season by making theirwish lists available to those who can help.

The program, known as Chamber Angels, allows participants to purchase presents for or adopt families in need.

It's kind of sad looking at the wish lists and seeing mom and dad on there, and they want food and clothes, said Executive Director Kathy Burbank.

Nurses from schools in Guilderland get lists from families in the district that might be in need, and give them to the Chamber, which then puts the items on "angel trees" where people can take an angel and purchase the items. Businesses will often sponsor entire families Burbank said.

According to Burbank, the number of businesses hosting "angel trees" has doubled this year.

Hana Japanese Steakhouse, Fist National Bank of Scotia, Ten Eyck Insurance Company, NBT Bank, Active Family Chiropractic, Maynard O'Connor Smith and Catalinotto, and the Chamber of Commerce all have angel trees.

Last year, 19 families were adopted, and close to $2,500 in toys, clothing and gift card donations were given to the families from local businesses.

Burbank said that there are more families with wish lists this year, but she is sure Chamber members are up to the task.

Hana Japanese Steakhouse has already asked for additional angels, and manager Charlie Cheng said he is treating his adopted Westmere Family to dinner as well.

"It breaks my heart to see the lists with kids asking for hats and boots when they should be getting toys. We are adding gifts to our family's lists. It is the right thing to do," Cheng said in a written statement.

Jenni Bliven, the branch manager and bank officer for NBT Bank said she has participated in the program for the past four years, and has gotten a great response.

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