It's a sign of the times.

The local Adopt an Angel program has exceeded last year’s gift requests by more than 100, organizers say.

This year, the program is seeking gifts for 849 children in 317 families in Ottawa County, according to Nicole Brown, coordinator of High School/College Relations at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College and supervisor of the program.

In 2007, the program had 738 angels representing 276 families.

Unfortunately, the gifts are not coming in, Brown said.

“Many of the angels were taken off the trees located in the Wal-Mart Supercenter on North Main Street before Thanksgiving,” Brown said. “But no presents have been left in the boxes.”

“Quite honestly, we’re getting kind of worried.”

The deadline for turning the gifts in is Dec. 14. The gifts may be turned in at boxes at Walmart, the administration building at the college or the High School/College Relations office in NEO’s Copen Hall.

“I’m afraid it’s the economy,” Brown said. “Because money has to go further, less people have extra (money) to adopt an angel.”

The angels, little cardboard cutouts with recipients ages, wishes and desires listed under an identification number, represent area children whose families have little to spend for the Christmas holiday.

Brown and Barbara Patterson, also with High School/College Relations, are willing to accept donations in just about any form.

They are happy when someone adopts an angel and can buy several gifts for the child.

They are also grateful to people who just buy several items on sale.

“We have one student here who brought in four bags of stuff she had bought throughout the year,” Brown said. “She brought them in and apologized for not having the chance to match them to an angel.

“We were just so pleased to have all the items. We’ll match them ourselves.”

They stress that the items listed on the angel are just the child’s wish.

“These are wishes,” Brown said. “They are there to give people an idea of what a child would like, but children often have no idea of just how expensive what they ask for is. If it is too much, just purchase what you think is appropriate.

“People who adopt an angel do not need to purchase all the gifts the child wished for,” Patterson said. “If someone can only purchase one item, we’re still grateful.”

People are asked to purchase what they can and leave the card with the present in the box by the trees at the store.

Purchases do not have to be made in Miami, all though the Adopt an Angel program spends the donations locally.

Anyone who picks up an angel and decides they won’t be able to make any purchases, is asked to put it back on the tree.

“Monetary gifts help make up the difference,” Brown said. “Once we’re done sorting, we and other volunteers will purchase items for those who had not been adopted and fill in for others.”

“No donation is too small,” Patterson said.

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 call 540-6290.