Clifton Park For more than 20 years, children throughout Saratoga County have had a happier holiday through the volunteer work of local business leaders, but this year some may go without.
With the deadline for sponsorships fast approaching, nearly 50 children whose names were submitted for the Southern Saratoga County Chamber Angels program still need someone to make their wishes come true.
“These are children who, without this program, would not have a Christmas,” said Davra San Angelo, the Chamber’s director of finance and administration and staff liaison for Chamber Angels.
The program receives the names of children in need from school districts, community centers and aid organizations within the county. The names are then cross referenced with other lists to ensure that Chamber Angels would be the child’s only source for gifts. Each child then creates a wish list, making sure to write down not only items they want, but items they desperately need.
“We really try to meet their needs first, and I’ll tell you, this year about three-fourths of the children have things like coats and gloves written down,” said San Angelo.
The number of families needing help has increased by 15 from last year and Chamber Angels volunteers are expecting numbers to increase in the years to come. This year, the names of 366 children were submitted to the program. San Angelo said the organization expects the numbers to rise above 400 within the next two years.
“We don’t see numbers decreasing at all,” she said. “In fact, we’re already receiving requests for children next year from other agencies.”
Chamber President and CEO Pete Bardunias said they plan on giving more this year than in the past. “I’m sure it’s not the biggest amount, but it’s a lot more than last year.”
According to San Angelo, at the program's largest point during the recession of the mid-90s, the names of 450 kids were submitted. The trend is disturbing for Chamber Angels volunteers, especially since so many children still do not have sponsors this year.