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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes
SACRAMENTO FWO: 13 Years and Counting--SFWO Assists Those in Need During the Holidays Through the Gifts from the Heart Program
Region 8, December 11, 2008
Some of the SFWO employees participating in the 2008 Gifts from the Heart Program assemble before taking their gifts to needy families. (Photo: USFWS(photo: Viola Taylor USFWS) 
Some of the SFWO employees participating in the 2008 Gifts from the Heart Program assemble before taking their gifts to needy families. (Photo: USFWS(photo: Viola Taylor USFWS)  - Photo Credit: n/a
Volunteers load this year's gifts prior to delivery (photo: Viola Taylor USFWS)
Volunteers load this year's gifts prior to delivery (photo: Viola Taylor USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a

by Steve Martarano, Sacramento FWO 

This year, almost 100 employees from the Sacramento Fish & Wildlife Office donated gifts through Sacramento County’s Gifts from the Heart Program, continuing a holiday tradition in the Sacramento office for 13 consecutive years.

 

Led once again by SFWO’s Administrative Support Branch Chief Vera Martin, the 2008 donations provided much-needed holiday cheer to about 50 foster children and 25 senior adults. Many of the SFWO employees who donated gathered recently just before the gifts were loaded onto trucks and taken to the county’s Health and Human Services’ main office. As the group assembled getting the gifts ready for departure, Martin reflected on the importance the program has meant to employees.

 

“It is very fulfilling to help someone who is less fortunate than you are; I’m sure all of our employees do it for that same reason,” Martin said. “It’s always a worthwhile cause to bring a smile to someone’s face.”

 

Those participating in the program pull the names of an individual or family off of a list and then purchase a gift based on their needs. Those donating can purchase gifts for an individual, or join with other co-workers to buy something for an entire family. Gifts can range from bikes, housewares, warm blankets, clothing, skateboards, games, and gift cards, among other items.

 

Several SFWO employees have been participating for most of the program’s 13 years. 

“I’ve contributed a gift the two years I’ve been here,” said Eileen Lopez, an office assistant with Section 7 and the Forest/Foothills Branch. “I do it to make someone else feel good so they’ll know that they’re being thought of and cared about.”

 

Planning begins with a luncheon each year in October, Martin said. Sacramento County’s Gifts from the Heart Program typically partners with close to 100 community agencies and individuals each year, providing almost 5,000 foster children and seniors with gifts during the holiday season.

Contact Info: Steve Martarano, 916-930-5643, steve_martarano@fws.gov