Program to benefit families served by New Directions' community-based programs in Erie, Niagara and Allegany counties
New Directions Youth and Family Services has launched its 2015 "Save a Christmas" program, an annual drive providing holiday gifts to low-income or single-parent families served by New Directions' community-based programs through individual gift donations or family sponsorships.
The program, originally referred to as the "Angel Tree Program," was first started in 2013 by Ashleigh MacLachlan, wrap-around care coordinator at New Directions.
"Save a Christmas" was inspired by MacLachlan's personal experience of dealing with domestic violence and leaving home with her mother and brother when she was 9 years old. As a child, she received a gift from an angel tree program, which, according to Ashleigh, essentially "saved her Christmas."
"That first Christmas we were involved with a program similar to the 'Save a Christmas' program," MacLachlan said. "I specifically remember the gifts I received that year, and it meant so much to me that someone I didn't know had gotten these things for me."
Because of her own experience, MacLachlan decided to start an annual holiday donation program at New Directions to make Christmas a happier day for those with a similar background.
"Our annual program gives people in our community the opportunity to sponsor a family or donate a special gift on a child's wish list that he or she probably would not have received otherwise," she said.
The program donated gifts to 67 children in 2013, and to 250 children in 2014. The goal of this year's program is to benefit at least 300 children in Erie, Niagara and Allegany counties.
Donation drop-off locations include New Directions' Wellsville, Randolph, Amherst and Lockport offices.