Holiday Blessings in Angel Program

Paul Herrle

Paul Herrle

By Roland Conn

Holiday spirit shines bright as others reach deep down to help children who are less fortunate.

During this holiday season, College of Southern Nevada’s faculty, staff and students can contribute to the yearly Angel Program. This holiday program allows volunteers to anonymously fulfill the wishes of children in need.

In a press release, Paul Herrle, professor at CSN who runs the Angel Program, said, “If you want to be an Angel, we’ll match you with a specific child. You’ll be given that child’s gender and age as well as some gift suggestions and clothing sizes. Then you’ll simply buy a gift or two and bring them back to campus by finals week so they can be distributed to that child’s mom or dad for the holidays.”

“The major purpose of the Angel Program is to get gifts into the hands of kids who otherwise would not necessarily get any gifts or not as many gifts over the holiday season,” Herrle said.

“They just say it’s a gift from God because it is a true angel act,” said Denise Sheffey, administrative assistant for TRIO and assistant vice president for community engagement. “God provided an angel for them and for their children. It has grown and blessed many, many people. I’m on the end where I get to hand out the gifts, see the reactions, hear the stories and it’s really a big blessing to the students.”

“I’ve had people cry in my arms and I’ve cried with them,” Sheffey said. “There are a lot of people that are really grateful and we have such a great staff here that provides all these gifts for these students; they just pitch in whenever needed.”

Kelly Wuest, director of career services and ReEntry, participates in the program. “The Angel Program, being fully CSN driven, is one CSN family member helping another family member.”

“Watching a child on a new bike when the parent comes in and seeing that excitement brings tears to my eyes: happy tears,” Wuest said.

“Other purposes of the Angel Program is to increase goodwill between students and faculty where they kind of look at each other differently,” Herrle added. “Obviously it can be… stressful being a student parent and we just try to take away some of that stress. It’s actually helping out there academic lives, social lives as well as their personal lives.”

Herrle worked at Southwestern College in San Diego that had a similar program. When he came to CSN he started it here. With the help of other faculty members and staff, the program has flourished.

“I noticed here at CSN we have more student parents than I have ever seen at Southwestern so there was definitely a need for it,” Herrle said.

In the first year of the Angel Program, which started eight years ago, approximately 70 children were given gifts. Over the years the numbers have grown. “At this point… we’re well over 1200 children that we bought gifts for through the Angel Program,” Herrle said.

“Some of the best stories though are the ones where we’ve had students who have been recipients of the Angel Program and once they’ve gotten their lives more straightened out they are able to come back and be givers in the Angel Program and those are the real heartening stories,” Herrle said.

In addition to volunteers who provide gifts for the children, the Classified Council runs bake sales and sell calendars to raise funds to buy grocery-store gift cards for the families so they can also have a Christmas meal.

To become an angel and help a child in need sign up at

Denise Sheffey

Denise Sheffey

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