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Environmental Factor

Environmental Factor

Your Online Source for NIEHS News

January 2020

Children receive gifts through NIEHS Angel Tree

Employees donated bikes, toys, and other items, which were distributed to local families by the Salvation Army of Durham.

More than 100 children received Christmas presents thanks to the generosity of the NIEHS community. The institute’s federal and contract employees donated bicycles, toys, clothing, and other gifts as part of the Salvation Army of Durham’s Angel Tree program. The charity drive, which was overseen by the Office of Science Education and Diversity, ended Dec. 10, when volunteers loaded all of the items on a delivery truck.

The initiative helps underprivileged families during the holiday season. Children’s wish lists are written on tags — each representing an angel in need. Local organizations hang them on Christmas trees, and an individual can select a child’s tag and buy the items on his or her list.

gifts around the tree in the Keystone building Gifts surrounded the tree in the Keystone building. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

At NIEHS, which has participated in the program since 2011, two trees were erected so that employees could easily participate. The angel tags — there were 103 in all — soon were pulled from the trees, and presents quickly piled up. Some people made donations even after all of the wish lists were gone.

The gift of giving

“It’s always good when you see your fellow coworkers as excited as you are about this initiative,” said Veronica Godfrey Robinson, a National Toxicology Program (NTP) biologist who helps to organize the institute’s Angel Tree efforts. “If we can help to put a smile on the children’s faces or warm their hearts, then we have done a good thing.”

Robinson was aided by co-organizers Myra Westmoreland, of the Administrative and Research Services Branch, and Kristen Ryan, Ph.D., an NTP toxicologist.

Sandy Henriquez, Ph.D., Marsha Johnston, Dave Bullard, Veronica Godfrey Robinson, Myra Westmoreland, Kristen Fisher, Carolyn Emerson, and Jill Hughes Volunteers at the Rall building gathered for a group picture. From left to right, Sandy Henriquez, Ph.D., Marsha Johnston, Dave Bullard, Robinson, Westmoreland, Kristen Fisher, Carolyn Emerson, and Jill Hughes. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

“This is a chaotic time of year, and many people are focused on family and people directly in their circle,” said Westmoreland. “We can forget that there are people other than us. But as soon as angels get on the trees, the calls start coming in: ‘Can I do this? Can I buy that? When are you going to take the gifts?’ The buzz around this program is super exciting,” she added.

Loading the gift packages on the Salvation Army’s delivery truck required team effort, as they were heavy and took up significant space. Of course, that meant good news for the local children who would receive them.

“These are heartfelt wishes that our colleagues are giving to these families, and they don’t know them at all,” said Westmoreland. “To me, for them to do that, it’s beautiful.”

(Jesse Saffron, J.D., is a technical writer-editor in the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.)


Veronica Godfrey Robinson, NTP Robinson helps to coordinate the institute’s Angel Tree efforts. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
Esra Mutlu, Ph.D. and Vicki Sutherland, Ph.D. hang angel tags on a tree Esra Mutlu, Ph.D., left, and Vicki Sutherland, Ph.D., both of NTP, hung angel tags on the tree at Keystone. (Photo courtesy of Helen Cunny)
volunteers with presents outsdie the Rall building At the Rall building, volunteers brought presents outside as the Salvation Army of Durham’s delivery truck arrived. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
volunteers loading a truck with gifts Loading gifts on the truck required team effort. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
several volunteers carrying bags of gifts Organizers said they were impressed by the number of gifts that their colleagues donated. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
Esra Mutlu, Ph.D., Helen Cunny, Ph.D., Troy Hubbard, Ph.D., Jesse Saffron, J.D., Dori Germolec, Ph.D., Vicki Sutherland, Ph.D., and Kristen Ryan, Ph.D. Volunteers at Keystone gathered for a group picture. From left to right, Mutlu, Helen Cunny, Ph.D., Troy Hubbard, Ph.D., Jesse Saffron, J.D., Dori Germolec, Ph.D., Sutherland, and Ryan. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
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