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By Breeana Greenberg

A total of 168 children in need will receive gifts this holiday season with the help of Project Angel Tree.

The Dana Point Woman’s Club (DPWC) partnered with The Dana Point Youth Board, Monarch Beach Sunrise Rotary Club, United Way Women’s Philanthropy Fund and the Dana Point Chamber of Commerce to ask members to purchase gifts for a particular “angel.”

This year, gifts will go to the families of United Way OC’s South County Pilot Program to Prevent Homelessness.

“We are incredibly grateful and very touched by the outpouring of love and support for Project Angel Tree,” DPWC Co-President Betty Hill said in a press release. “This effort sends a much-needed hug to vulnerable families. We’re very happy we can make their Christmas a little brighter.”  

United Way OC’s South County Pilot Program offers classes to low income families to build financial stability in an effort to prevent homelessness. DPWC raised funds for the Pilot Program last summer at its “Cocktails for a Cause” event.

“We were a little overwhelmed when we found out there were 168 kids in total,” DPWC Vice President Toni Nelson said in an email. “We thought about just focusing on a smaller number of kids, but it really seemed unfair to leave any of them out. Our Board decided we would take on the kids from one of the cohorts but authorized me to start shaking the bushes looking for local groups to take on the other three.”

The Dana Point Youth Board coordinated with high school students to run a gift drive at Dana Hills High School. The Chamber of Commerce and City of Dana Point also picked up a group of kids for whom to purchase gifts. The Monarch Beach Rotary and United Way OC’s Women’s Philanthropy Fund each took on a cohort as well, and plan to join the DPWC on Saturday, Dec. 4, for a gift-wrapping party.

Thanks to the collaboration between civic and philanthropic groups, Angel Tree became a community project, Nelson said.

“Charity begins at home, but I don’t think most realize that we have a great number of very needy families in affluent Dana Point,” Nelson said in the email. “The United Way OC Pilot Program truly works to prevent homelessness before it happens, and I hope our community will continue to support this cause.”

In order to protect privacy, families were assigned numbers rather than using surnames. Parents provided a list of gift suggestions.

“I found it particularly compelling that a lot of parents asked for clothing or shoes, but I have a feeling most of our community members will be adding in a toy as well,” Nelson said.

The DPWC will be delivering the gifts on Dec. 9.

“Dana Point Woman’s Club is heartened by the way local charity groups and individuals joined us in embracing Project Angel Tree,” DPWC Co-President Karin Marsh said in the press release. “Their generosity toward vulnerable local families says so much about our South County community.”

Breeana Greenberg is the city reporter for the Dana Point Times. She graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Before joining Picket Fence Media, she worked as a freelance reporter with the Laguna Beach Independent. Breeana can be reached by email at bgreenberg@picketfencemedia.com

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