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Boys, Girls Club Thrift Store hosts Angel Tree for first year

Creeping closer to Christmas, it's clear that there are angels among us -- and their tree is sitting right in front of the Boys and Girls Club Thrift Store in Detroit Lakes.

For the first time, store employees have erected a Christmas tree full of children's names.

They are children who, because of their family's financial situation, stand to get little for Christmas this year.

The Angel Tree works like many others you'll see this time of year.

"Pick a tag off the tree, and it will tell you if it's a boy or girl, how old they are, and what they're looking for" explained Store Manager Cary Perell, "so it makes it very easy for you as a consumer to come in and pick something out."

Perell says although there are other trees and toy drives in the area, he believes their position working to make lives better for local girls and boys makes them the perfect organization to host a project like this.

"I think the more people out there trying to get involved with this to make it better for kids, the better off we'll be -- the less kids that will get missed," said Perell.

Angel Tree Project Manager and Thrift Store Employee Monica Renteria has been a busy little elf, collecting names from the Boys and Girls Club, the Crisis Center, and other organizations with an insight into which kids have been facing tough financial times.

"There's a lot of kids out there who are in need," said Renteria, "and Christmas is one of the biggest times of year -- for them to have to go without just because their parents are out of work or whatever isn't right."

The Angel Tree is starting off with 50 names and a waiting list, but Perell says if there are enough sponsors who come through for those first 50 children, they'll put the rest of them on there as well.

"It being our inaugural year, we're not quite sure what to expect," said Perell, who added that anybody in the community can drop off or call in a name -- they don't all need to be referred from an organization.

"You may say 'wow, little Joey's dad has been out of work, his mom's been ill ... he could really use a nice Christmas present. Simply call Monica, tell her his name and age and what we could maybe do for him," said Perell.

Those working with the Angel Tree do ask that sponsors interested in fulfilling these Christmas wishes keep their purchases under 25 dollars, in an effort to make sure all children are treated equally.

"Because some of those kids are siblings and we don't want any of them to feel bad because their brother or sister got a $100 present and they only got a $15 one," said Perell, who adds that they don't care if the gifts are bought at the Boys and Girls Thrift Store or somewhere else in town, as long as they're bought.

In fact, Perell says they're starting out the project by offering a challenge to store and club employees to get the ball rolling.

Both Perell and Renteria believe the Detroit Lakes community will come through in filling these kids' wishes, just like it's come through for countless other non-profit events.

"This community comes through with tremendous success," said Perell, "the more sponsors we get, the more smiles we'll be putting on those kids' faces and helping their lives to be just a little more cheery on Christmas."

Gifts can be dropped off at the Boys and Girls Club Thrift Store wrapped or unwrapped, as long as the tag identifying the child is still with it.

For more information, call the thrift store at 218-844-6556.