Angels help make holiday wishes come true

Jamie DeLoma

The Angel Tree took root approximately one year ago when David Blanchard, a senior production major, developed the idea of bringing an Angel Tree to the Quinnipiac campus after reading an article in the New Haven Register.

As Blanchard patiently waited in line at the bookstore, he opened the Register and read about left-over angels on Salvation Army Angel Trees.

The little angels each listed the age, size, name and preferred gift for Christmas of a less fortunate child from the Greater New Haven area.

With that small seed, “the idea of bringing a tree to campus so that students would be able to help the community” came to mind.

Blanchard called Captain Robin Maddock, a person affiliated with the New Haven branch of the Salvation Army and inquired about “helping with donations. I told her about Quinnipiac’s 8,000 students, faculty and staff and asked how I could help.”

Blanchard said, “a few weeks ago, [Maddock] called about getting started at Quinnipiac” and the process was in motion of bringing an Angel Tree to campus.

Soon after the phone call, Blanchard and his girlfriend, Jocelyn DeBlois, a sophomore public relations major, went to the Salvation Army and picked up the Christmas tree that is currently in the Student Center as well fifty angel tags, each with the name of a particular needy child who lived in the Greater New Haven area. However, at this point, neither DeBlois nor Blanchard had received permissions from Quinnipiac to put up the tree and begin their collection.

Because they were responsible for fulfilling the dreams of fifty needy children, Blanchard and DeBlois contacted David Ives, the executive director of the Schweitzer Institute. Blanchard had him as a professor in the past making him a valuable contact “to get through the red tape.”

Without any problems, the Schweitzer Institute signed off on the project truly helping the Angel Tree to take root on the campus.

Blanchard said that all the children whose names appear on the Angel Tree are in the Greater New Haven area.

“There is a lot of poverty in New Haven,” she said, “and there are a lot of kids who have nothing.”

Having done a community service project last year “and seeing how the kids were living, I realize how totally ridiculous the conditions the kids are living in are,” he said.

Blanchard believes his performing service helped make the project “more exciting.”

DeBlois said that “when David told me about the idea, I thought it was a great idea.” She said that she believes that “most Quinnipiac kids are willing to donate but don’t have a way to do so,” she believes that the Angel Tree provides such a way.

The week prior to Thanksgiving recess, the angel tags were placed on the tree and Blanchard, DeBlois and a few volunteers staffed the tree and helped students find young children to purchase gifts for. By the third day, Wednesday, all 50 tags had been taken by students.

More tags were arranged on the Angel Tree following the break and have been there since Monday. Blanchard’s personal goal is to have 100 gifts purchased for 100 students. Gifts are due back at the Angel Tree by Dec. 12, according to him.

Blanchard said that “Jocelyn takes a lot of weight off of my shoulders” and is very thankful for Ives, DeBlois and a few other students who helped to make the project a reality. He said “Jocelyn is the voice of reason.”

Blanchard said “for those who drop the ball” and fail to bring gifts for the children on the tags that they had taken, clubs will be asked to donate money to help ensure that all children will receive a Christmas gift. However, Blanchard did say, “The people seem pretty responsible.”

He said that if students cannot pick up a tag with a child’s name on it and would still like to help out with the “grassroots” project, they could donate cash or even volunteer their time to man the table in front of the tree. He said that “some days Jocelyn and I will have to sit at the tree for four or more hours.”

The Angel Tree is located in across from HUB Bank on the first floor of the Student Center.