Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Calling All Angels

Christmas is supposed to be a magical time for children.
The Angel Tree program of Stillwater County is making sure that happens for those families who find themselves in need during the holiday season.
Affiliated with Project Hope and run by Columbus resident Kelley Vesbach, the program quietly and discretely collects the names of families in need. A paper angel is created for each child, listing the gender, favorite color, age, clothing sizes and a wish list.
Individuals and businesses then request these paper angels and play Santa, returning the items to Project Hope.
Vesbach, who is the only person that knows the recipients’ names, and Project Hope then place the unwrapped items in a dark, plastic bag with the angels attached. The parents are contacted and pick up the bags, which they then take home, wrap and give to their children.
Last year, 110 children from 37 families in Stillwater County benefited from the program. As of Monday morning, 40 families had been identified this year.
Vesbach says shoppers are encouraged to buy a clothing item, as those are obvious necessities, as well as one toy from the wish list.
Shoppers are contacted each year to see if they want to participate again, said Vesbach. Montana Silversmith’s traditionally goes over and above, with the business shopping for 34 kids last year.
Vesbach said she has discovered that many in the community aren’t aware of the program and she encourages people who would like to participate or learn more to call her at 406 (321)-1760.
The Angel Tree program and Project Hope have both been in existence for 17 years, said Vesbach.

Vesbach was drawn to the program for a very special reason. Like her mother, Christmas is her favorite holiday and both women participated in the Angel Tree program.
With her mother’s passing a handful of years ago, Vesbach — a mother of three and a Reed Point school teacher — decided to up her level of involvement by becoming a coordinator.