By Michelle Miller
---- — A community-based group in Cooperstown has been helping out those less fortunate for about eight years and is close to becoming a nonprofit organization.
The Angel Network offers families with children in the Cooperstown School District assistance with food, daily living necessities as well as Christmas and holiday gifts. The group started off very small, but now consists of board members and a fundraising committee.
In the past six years, the number of families helped has gone from 15 to more than 45, according to member Alyssa McGoldrick.
“During this economic downturn our requests from families have increased tremendously,” McGoldrick said.
She said The Angel Network has grown from 30 to more than 400 contacts.
“We have people as far away as Los Angeles on our list who periodically drop a check in the mail,” McGoldrick said.
Items The Angel Network has given away include clothing, school supplies, funds to help student attend summer school and camps, hygiene products, groceries and gas cards.
Christmas is particularly a busy time of year for The Angel Network. Last year,the group was able to help 33 families and more than 70 children. The Angel Network has begun the process of compiling requests for assistance for the Christmas/holiday season.
CCS guidance counselors and teachers act as liaisons between students in need and members of the Angel Network. Requested items are anonymously posted via email to members of the Angel Network. Angel Network community members then donate these requested items. To contact the organization, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Confidentiality is something we all feel really strongly about,” said Katie Baldo, CCS guidance counselor.
“One thing that I feel really good about is that we help a lot of families through transition times such as families who are going through medical emergencies, deaths and even loss of jobs,” she continued.
McGoldrick said struggling families are still in need of gently used clothing, including adult clothing, but there has been a shift to basic necessities of everyday living. She said last year’s Christmas wish lists surprised her with requests for food, toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, laundry detergent and other personal care products.
Members of The Angel Network said because boys tend to wear out their clothing more quickly than girls, boy’s clothing is in higher demand.
A fundraising committee was launched in 2011. McGoldrick said the main reason for raising cash is to be able to purchase grocery and gas cards. The goal is to also be able to further the children’s educational journey, she added.
McGoldrick said a mother of a child who needed to attend summer school was not happy that her son had to, so she made him pay for half the costs. The Angel Network paid for the other half and a bus pass, according to McGoldrick.
This Friday and Saturday, CCS students and their families are invited to two days of free shopping at My Neighbor’s Closet. The event will be held from 1 to 7 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Baptist Church on Main Street in Hartwick.
This year, the group is focusing on three fundraisers:
The Angel Network will host Rock the Night Away at Brewery Ommegang on Nov. 2. The event will feature the Round House Rockers. Festivities will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. and the group will be collecting new or gently used hats, mittens and youth and adult size boots. The cost is $20 per person (must be 21 or older to attend).
A winter dance with the date to be determined.
The second annual Tot 5k will be held at the Clark Sports Center on June 30.