The Northwest Valley community showed its generosity during the annual angel tree program offered by the SunDome Merchants and Corte Bella Vets.
More than 1,700 gifts were provided from the tags on angel trees placed in front of Safeway, Icon Superstore, Hole-In-One and Bob’s Variety Store in the SunDome Shopping Center, 13519 W. Camino del Sol, Sun City West. In addition, the Corte Bella Vets donated $2,000 in gift cards, in $25 incements, to be distrubuted to veterans.
Jim Starkman, Corte Bella Vets charity director, described how he pulled up to the Plaza Cleaners to discover another SUV full of presents for area veterans. He loaded them up and headed over to the Icon Superstore where he met volunteers from the Corte Bella Vets who then walked them up to the sorting area.
“This is the third year in which the Corte Bella Vets have worked jointly with the SunDome Merchants to collect gifts for our Veterans; and each year we have experienced an increase in the numbers of gifts collected,’ Mr. Starkman said.
However, he shared he has never seen so much generosity as in the 2020 program. Gifts included handmade knitted hats, afghans and throws.
“It was evident that the residents of Sun City West wanted to do something special for our veterans,” Mr. Starkman said.
But it was also a Northwest Valley effort as gifts were provided by Sun City, Surprise and Peoria residents gave their support to the program and veterans who are in transition homes, a VA hospital and a long-term VA community living center. Gifts were delivered to Mary Ellen’s Place, James Walton Home, VA Hospital/Community Living Centers in Phoenix and in Prescott.
Mr. Starkman said feedback received from the VA Hospital/Community Living Center in Phoenix was that gift giving was a wonderful experience.
“So many veterans were extremely touched by the number of gifts they received, the beautiful quality of the items and all the special attention that was given to selecting the perfect gifts for them,” he explained. “Some of the veterans had tears in their eyes and it really helped to lift morale in a huge way!”
The angel tree projects begins during the summer months with the printing and stringing of the tags and ends in late December with the two-day delivery of all the gifts.