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Decorated with Angels

AHOSKIE – Little paper angel cutouts decorate the Christmas tree inside the Ahoskie branch of Wells Fargo bank. Each angel contains a wishlist of presents from a young child.

This is the third year that the staff of the bank have coordinated with Hertford County’s Department of Social Services in order to make the holiday a bit brighter for local foster kids.

“We wanted to be able to make some type of difference in the community. It bothers me so much that there are kids out there who won’t have Christmas,” said Tameka Harrell, who is currently coordinating the project after Penny Turner Hall originally started it in 2016.

The Department of Social Services doesn’t send them the names of the children in foster care, but they do send a list of items the kids request. Anyone who wants to participate can simply pick an angel from the tree and then bring the unwrapped gift back to the bank which is located at 300 East Main Street in Ahoskie. It is okay, however, to place the item in a gift bag, Harrell noted.

“Not only do we [the Wells Fargo team] partake in it, but we ask our customers if they would help with the Angel Tree. We talk to every customer who comes in or through the (teller) window,” she explained.

Non-customers are also invited to drop by and participate. The deadline for returning gifts is 5 p.m. on Thursday, Dec 20.

Harrell said the response to the Angel Tree has been positive each time, recalling how the space around the tree was completely “full to capacity” last year. They sent about three truckloads of gifts to the Department of Social Services. For any Angels which had not been selected by the deadline, the Wells Fargo workers went and purchased gifts so that no one was left out.

“It’s something that we’ve really been enjoying doing the past couple of years,” Harrell said.

“Every time a customer comes in with a bag, I’m like ‘thank you Santa!’” she continued with a laugh. “It just makes me feel good to know that we could make a difference in some child’s life. I didn’t even know we had foster kids in Hertford County and when I found out, it completely broke my heart.”

As a mother herself, Harrell said the Angel Tree project is special because it helps out children in need. Even if she doesn’t have a lot to give, she said, “what I can do, I absolutely will do.”

In addition to the Angel Tree, Wells Fargo is also conducting a food drive through the end of the month. People can drop off foods such as cereal, peanut butter, 100 percent juice, canned tuna, macaroni & cheese, rice, pasta and pasta sauces, canned fruits and vegetables, canned soups, dry or canned beans, and many more non-perishable items. Monetary donations are accepted as well.

The food drive donations will be coordinated with a food bank to serve people locally.

“Anytime we can reach out and help someone, it always feels good,” Harrell said. “Thank you to everyone who helped participate in making a child smile for Christmas.”