Choctaw Nation Elder Angel Tree program spreads holiday joy
By Chrissy Dill
Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
The holiday season is a special time for many people. It’s a time to gather
with family and spend quality time with each other while celebrating the
blessing of life. The Choctaw Nation Victim Services Department strives to
bring Choctaw elders the joy of the holidays by supplying them with generous
gifts from people who truly care about them.
Under the leadership of Executive Director of Outreach Services Randy Hammons, Director Linda Goodwin and Assistant Director of the Victim Services Department Vicki Perez, a project called the Choctaw Nation Elder Angel Tree has been developed.
The Elder Angel Tree works much like a children’s angel tree. The donator’s name is anonymous to the elder. Generous individuals who purchase an elder angel will find listed on the back three suggested products that a Choctaw elder needs. The donator will buy the gift(s), and CN Victims Service’s employees will then deliver it to the home of the elder. “Most gifts are small, like gloves, shirts, blankets or socks,” explained Goodwin. This meaningful program began six years ago and has been growing ever since, giving Choctaw elders something to smile about and be thankful for. “Back then it was a small project,” said Goodwin. “We maybe had about 10 elders we delivered gifts to.” Since then, the CN Elder Angel Tree project has increased its number of elders to over 100. “We try to have at least 120 angels every year,” said a pleased Goodwin. “At least 10 elders per tribal district.”
The Elder Angel Tree benefits Choctaw elders who are 55 years or older and are tribal members. The program helps those who are forlorn or widowed, have hardship cases or are generally in need. Most referrals come from Victim Advocates, CHR’s, community-based social workers, Outreach Services and other tribal employees throughout the 10 1Ž2 counties of the Choctaw Nation. The majority of these Choctaw elders are especially in need of some care during the holiday season. “A lot of the elders are shut-ins,” claimed Goodwin. “Some whose family wouldn’t come and see them. We want to make the holidays better for them and give them something nice for the holiday season.” The Elder Angel volunteers and donators show the elders that someone is thinking about them and cares about their needs.
Though anyone is welcome to purchase an elder angel, Choctaw Nation employees are huge contributors to this cause. According to Goodwin, almost all of their donations come from employees of the Choctaw Nation. Throughout the years, more and more employees ask for angels and more and more angels are produced. There are even some departments that will purchase several angels, according to Goodwin. “We are very appreciative of those departments that purchase angels each year,” she said. “They work together to help our Choctaw elders.”
If you would like donate to the Choctaw Elder Angel Tree project, your generous funds are greatly appreciated by many. Call Linda Goodwin at 580-326-8304. Gifts will be distributed to elders between Dec. 13 and 17. Linda’s office, the Victim’s Services Department, is located in downtown Hugo. If you wish, send your donation to P.O. Box 88, Hugo, OK 74743 or just stop by the office to pick up an angel. The Choctaw Elder Angel is a great project that spreads joy during the holiday season to elders, showing them they are greatly appreciated in their communities.