Christmas is coming and the Adopt an Angel program is anxiously awaiting the return of gifts.

All donations — gifts and or money — are due at the box under the trees at Wal-Mart by Sunday.

“We’ve put more than 100 more angels on the tree than last year,” said Nicole Brown, coordinator of High School/College Relations at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College and supervisor of the program. “We hope that people will reach into their hearts and their wallets and help these children receive something for Christmas.”

Last year with 738 angels in 276 families, Brown and Barbara Patterson and several other volunteers had 30 carts of items they had to purchase for the children after all the donations were made.

“But at least we were able to make the purchases,” Brown said. “This year, so far we haven’t receive that much in monetary donations.”

Two local residents know intimately how the Adopt an Angel program works — they were the recipients of the gifts for their children.

Jennifer Shallenburger and Jenny McCool, were both single parents and both received gifts for their three children approximately eight years ago.

Shallenburger lived in Quapaw.

“I was employed at the Stables at the time and they were a huge supporter of the program,” Shallenburger said. “The management asked if anyone needed help and I did so they turned my name in. I felt a little ashamed, but the confidentiality with the program is so great that no one would have ever known I was a recipient if I hadn’t told them.”

McCool was attending Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College full-time and working parttime in addition to being a mother and raising three children.

Without the Adopt an Angel program, these six children like the other participants would not have had a very nice Christmas.

“Most likely they would have have received one gift a piece from me and a few things from Santa,” Shallenburger said.

“The people with the program were great and never made me feel like I was less than them,” Shallenburger said. “They truely enjoyed helping us and always had a smile.”

“I remember when I went to pick up the gifts and they gave me a huge garbage bag full,” McCool said. “There were tears in my eyes. I was so grateful that someone I didn’t even know cared that much to help provide these gifts for my children for Christmas.”

“My daughter actually made the comment that she didn’t want our name mentioned in this article,” Shallenburger said. “I told her that it was nothing to be ashamed of. We needed help and now we have the opportunity to help another family and that should be what it’s all about.”

“My father always said you should give people a hand up, not a hand out,” McCool said. “That’s what the Adopt an Angel program was for us.”

The children of Shallenburger and McCool have taken up the program and now help buy gifts for other angels on the trees.

The gifts may be turned in at boxes at Wal-mart through Sunday.

Monetary gifts can be made through Monday.

Those interested in making a monetary donation to the Adopt an Angel program should contact Edie Ingram with the college’s Development Foundation at 542-6372.

For more information about the program, contact the High School/College Relations department at 540-6290.