Guilderland Angels take wing, contributions needed

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Standing beside a tree decorated with ornaments representing holiday wishes, Mary Rozak, left, spokeswoman for Albany County’s executive, listens to Lisa Wolcott of the YMCA explain the Guilderland Angeles program.

GUILDERLAND — A Christmas tree decorated with snowflakes was lit at a press event on Monday morning to launch the Guilderland Angels project.

Each snowflake on the tree at the Guilderland Chamber of Commerce offices was keyed to a wish list for a family in need.

For the first time this year, the Holiday Angels program at the Guilderland YMCA has merged with the Giving Angels program at the chamber.

“This year, we decided to join forces,” said Sandra Dollard, the chamber’s director. The partnership, she said, will “enlarge our circle of giving.”

The families are identified by Guilderland’s five public elementary schools, its middle school, St. Catherine’s, the Duanesburg Early Learning Center, and the Delmar Center, said the YMCA’s Lisa Wolcott.

Michele Puleo O’Hare, director of the Foundation for St. Catherine’s Center for Children, said that St. Catherine’s, which is based in Albany, covers 26 counties and serves over 4,000 people. She said she was grateful for the holiday gifts.

“We’re up to 50 families and 25 individual children,”said Wolcott, adding that over 500 gifts will be needed for up to 135 individuals.

“The need is greater than ever,” said Mary Rozak, spokeswoman for Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy.

The county has its own program to help needy families at Christmas time and last year helped over 300 families, Rozak said.

She stressed that the Guilderland program and the county program are “not competing” with each other.

Many of the requests are for “basic needs,” Rozak said, and named requests for dish towels, silverware, and bed sheets.

“These are kids making these requests,”she said.

As a “proud Guilderland resident,” Rozak said, she would be picking up a snowflake from the tree to “help someone have a happier holiday.”

Guilderland councilman Jacob Crawford said the need “continues to grow.”

The YMCA will have its own tree, Wolcott said, with ornaments listing individuals and the items they want.

The gifts from the chamber as well as the Y will all be collected at the Guilderland YMCA at 250 Winding Brook Dr., allowing givers to drop off anytime the Y is open.

Unwrapped items with identifying tags are due back by Dec. 14. Volunteers then compile the items for the family to pick up. Families will receive a gift card each and wrapping supplies as well.

Volunteers are still needed to help with the sorting and organizing. “It’s a lot of volunteer hours …,” said Wolcott. “We can find something for you to do.”

Any individual, business, or organization that would like to help may email Dollard at or Wolcott at

“Kids are asking for educational toys,” said Wolcott, “and I’m like, but can’t they have a Barbie?”

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