Area children need your help

To the editor:

“One would give generous alms if one had the eyes to see the beauty of a cupped receiving hand.”

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

When Delwyn Collins was growing up in the projects of Fort Worth, Texas, he was labeled handicapped with a learning disability and sent to a special education school. His teachers never suspected that Collins was a genius at caring. Today, the cafeteria worker at Tampa General Hospital is nothing less than an angel to hundreds of foster children in Hillsborough County, Fla. These children, many with special needs and often moved from home to home, tug hard at Collins’ heart. For more than 20 years, he has set up a Foster Angel’s Giving Tree decorated with paper angels bearing the first names, ages and gender of foster children and the gifts each child would like to receive.

Collins is a man of modest means. But, each week he sets aside a portion of his paycheck to buy gifts to put under the tree. “I just want to show these children there is somebody out there in the community who loves them.” His unpretentious example has inspired the doctors, nurses and administrators he works with to make the giving tree a priority. Hospital employees and visitors take an angel off the tree and buy the present the child has requested.

As Christmas nears, bicycles, dolls, clothes and video games overflow the cafeteria. The program has begun to receive presents from donors throughout the county. More than 1,000 kids in foster care around Tampa received gifts in 2009. “My job is to help and give to others,” says Collins. “God doesn’t care if we’re rich or poor.”

Just as Collins works to take of his children, Urban Mission is working to get the final 155 children adopted. This year Thanksgiving is later on the calendar and our Christmas programs begin earlier. Parents will be coming on Dec. 5 and 6 to pick up their children’s gifts. We ask that the gifts be brought to us on or before Dec. 4.

I am asking if you have helped with this program before, but haven’t called to help this year, call. If you have never helped with this program, call. This is a wonderful means of experiencing the reason for the season. Albert Einstein sums up the subject of giving when he states “The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.” There are many of us who are blessed in many ways. This is the time of year to allow the overflow of our blessings directed to those who have less than us.

I am challenging everyone who reads this to help. If you decide to do so, then pass it on. If we join in this project together, these remaining 155 children will have a wonderful Christmas morning. Call me at (740) 282-2911 and I will give you all the information you need to get the process started.

Linda L. Smith

Urban Mission

Programs Director