ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – When the sun rises on Christmas morning, children all over Harford County will tip-toe out of their rooms to catch a glimpse of what Santa has left for them. When they spy presents under the tree, that in years past has been bare, the world will get a little bit brighter, as more children will now believe in the magic of the season.
That magic would not be possible for some local children, if it wasn’t for generous volunteers from the Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity, or AMSAA, Holiday Family Committee at APG. The committee has been illuminating the holidays for area families since the 1980s.
Started by former employees Ann Vogt and Betty Coale, AMSAA volunteers have continued the tradition and kept the spirit of giving alive and well by continuously raising money to help families in need.
This year, they managed to raise $3,600 through independently-run fundraisers that take place year round. The funds were divided among four different organizations– Army Community Service (ACS), The Sexual Assault/ Spouse Abuse Resource Center (SARC), Harford Family House, and Havre de Grace Elementary School– to provide presents, clothes, meals, household necessities and cleaning supplies for families throughout the county.
Dottie Newcomer, who has led the committee for the past three years, said that she decided to volunteer when the position became vacant because it’s “such a great cause.”
“We helped out a lot of kids through [the committee] and impacted their holiday, and it was something I wanted to see grow and continue.”
With the funds raised this year, the committee was able to sponsor 38 gifts from the ACS Angel Tree, as well as purchase 100 gifts for ten children from the Havre de Grace Elementary School Christmas Joy project.
Mildred Mial, an AMSAA employee who has been a committee member for over 18 years, said that giving back to families in the community is very important this time of year.
“I like to help people because I know they don’t have anything, and that’s what Christmas is all about. I have the things that I need, so I just like to help [others].”
Committee member Lisa Carroll added, “Not everyone has as much as our kids and our families do, and we like to brighten their lives.”
The generosity continues all year
In addition to the families that they sponsor, volunteers set up donation boxes in each building for canned goods, paper goods, and any necessities needed by the organizations, as well as a hat, scarf, and mitten tree where employees can donate to both adults and children.
The committee said that AMSAA employees are so generous that the donation bins have to be emptied many times throughout the season.
Besides the warm and fuzzy feelings members get from helping others, they said it also brings their organization together.
“It brings about some camaraderie within us too,” Newcomer said. “You’re able to work with other people in a cause that you both feel good about.”
The committee hopes to continue this worthy tradition for the foreseeable future. While the amount of money raised for the cause may differ each year, the amount of lives they touch in Harford County continues to grow.