‘Tis the Season of Giving for the Angel Program

By Brianna Fayerverger

Faculty and staff at College of Southern Nevada are joining together this holiday season in giving back to those who are less fortunate.

The CSN Holiday Angel Program, directed by Paul Herrle, a human behavior professor at CSN, symbolizes the true meaning of community. The Angel Program has two purposes. It strives to bring faculty, students and staff together and to give gifts to those in need. “The program is where students of CSN who are experiencing economic hardship can receive gifts for their children for the holiday season,” according to the Angel Program’s website.

“These CSN students and or parents are primarily identified and invited to join by members of the TRIO and ReEntry programs,” Herrle said. TRIO Student Support Services Program and ReEntry Program help students overcome barriers to education, some of which are financial. “They fill out a form asking about their children and their wishes and then they are matched with volunteers from CSN faculty and staff who purchase the gifts.”

“Students who request funding assistance from the grant that we manage in our ReEntry program [soon to be called Career and Technical Education Assistance Program] need to meet certain criteria,” said Laura Cortez, senior specialist of student affairs. “The most important one is that students must be one of the following to apply: low income, single parent, displaced homemaker or student with a disability.”

According to Herrle, the program was started in December 2007 and received wish lists from 69 children and over 85 Angels signed up to volunteer to buy gifts for those in need that first year. The program has continued to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The amount of wish lists has grown as high as 212 since. Over the years the Angel Program has provided gifts for approximately 1600 children.

“The faculty and staff who volunteer to be Angels are absolutely the lifeblood of this program,” Herrle said. “Some have been with us since the very beginning and others perhaps only for a little while but their generosity every year just amazes me.”

“Volunteering to be an Angel is the easy part,” Herrle said. “In November an email gets sent out to all faculty and staff asking for support. The email includes a link to a site where they can enter all their info. Around Thanksgiving we send each Angel the wish list for their child [or children]. The Angels buy and wrap the gifts and bring them back to campus in early December so we can give them out to the students before winter break,” Herrle said.

The CSN’s Classified Council partners up with the Angel Program as well. The Council spearheaded a campaign to enhance the Angel Program by providing gift cards to local grocery stores to help the families with holiday meals, according to the Council’s website. Generously 100 percent of the proceeds from the Council’s annual calendar sales goes towards purchasing these gift cards.

“As part of the Council for 18 years as a representative and the last several years as human resources liaison, I supported the Council on taking the initiative to support the Angel Program,” said Shelley Dean, personnel technician for human resources. “I thought it was a great way to give back to the community.”

Dean participates in the Program in many ways by collecting gifts and delivering them. “Last year I delivered some gifts to the North Las Vegas campus in my truck and all the way I was listening to Christmas carols and I felt like one of Santa’s elves.”

When the gifts are given out, Dean said, “It is quite moving to see the appreciation and joy on their faces. Some are overwhelmed with emotion, surprise and all very grateful. For me, the opportunity to be a small part of this program reminds me even more of what the spirit of Christmas truly is and knowing my small bit of participation made others Christmas special.”

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