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NEO Press Releases

For more than three decades, the Angel Tree program has relied on generous community support to help provide toys for under-served children during the holiday season. With a struggling economy, the need has grown each year with more than 950 children served in 2013, so this holiday season several local organizations are helping with the cause.

For the past nine years, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) has been the sole organizer of this program.  Most of the duties were handled through the NEO’s Recruitment Office, which has a staff of just six people.

“The program has grown tremendously and now requires more than a few volunteers to oversee it,” said Scott Donaldson, assistant vice president of student affairs and director of student recruitment.  “Once all the presents were handed out last year, we began working on a plan to streamline and coordinate with other agencies in the community.” 

According to Donaldson, not only is manpower an issue, but space is too.

“We have outgrown our current location for housing, sorting, and dispersing toys,” he said. “The NEO Recruitment Office just isn’t big enough anymore, so we are hoping someone will offer us an adequate location to use to use from Dec. 1-20.”

For the past several months, Donaldson has been meeting with area organizations to develop a plan to coordinate one comprehensive list of children in the area who would possibly wake up Christmas morning without a gift to unwrap. 

“The goal of this effort is to alleviate the volume of donation requests to area businesses and donors while still providing Christmas to under-served children,” Donaldson said.  “Donors have expressed a legitimate concern that there are multiple organizations serving the families, and with this consolidated effort, we hope to prevent this.”

This year, the Department of Human Services (DHS) has agreed to develop a database where all applications will be submitted.

In addition to DHS, several other organizations are also offering their support including the Fraternal Order of Police, Ottawa County Boys and Girls Club, and several tribal entities. 

Donaldson stressed for the Angel Tree program to continue and be successful, it’s going to require community support.

“NEO is offering to commit to 100 angels and issues a challenge to area businesses to match our efforts, he said.  “If you are a smaller business or organization, please consider adopting five or 10 from the tree.”

For more information or to get involved, please join the next community meeting on Thursday, Sept. 4 at 3:30 p.m. at the DHS office at 2114 Denver Harner Drive in Miami.


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