Local woman aims to help 70 families this holiday season

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are three unalienable rights penned by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. If it were up to Williamstown resident Eileen Simpler, a fourth would be added to that list: Every kid deserves a Christmas.

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Picture this: The year is 2005 and Simpler has been a Williamstown resident for four years. She is introduced to Sandy Dilks, then director of community affairs, and the two hit it off. They worked on a community angel tree during the holiday season, where they collected toys and clothes for less fortunate children in town. The duo was paired with the Salvation Army until the nonprofit wanted to take the collection of toys and clothes from Williamstown to Camden. Simpler and Dilks insisted on keeping them in town.

The two of them ran a community angel tree in town until Dilks’ passing in 2011. Simpler continues the tradition in her friend’s honor.

“I told her I’d keep doing it as long as God gave me the strength to do it,” Simpler said.

Every year, she brings the community angel tree to a business with the anonymous child’s gender and age. Anyone can take the tag and replace it with their own contact information, then shop for the anonymous child.

This year, the tree is set up at Farmer’s Insurance on the Black Horse Pike and can be accessed Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; the office is closed Saturday and Sunday. Simpler said there are 70 kids this year, all Williamstown residents, all anonymous.

“Every kid deserves a Christmas,” she insisted. “I can’t see kids going without Christmas;  it’s not right.”

Simpler accepts donations for the angel tree until Christmas Eve to make sure she helps as many families as possible. Donations can be given to Simpler unwrapped, and she then delivers the presents to recipients’ homes.

“It gives me joy,” Simpler said simply of her work. “I don’t think it’s a big deal; I do it because I like doing it.

“I was raised to help people,” she added. “I wouldn’t want to wake up in the morning and not have anything under the tree.”

Simpler has gifted trees to families in the past. Her annual community angel tree is not a licensed 501c3 nonprofit; she’s just a woman who wants to make sure every child has a proper Christmas.

For more information, visit the community angel tree at Farmer’s Insurance or call Simpler at (856) 262-3187.

Anthony is a graduate of Rowan University and a proud freelance contributor for 08108 magazine. He has past bylines in The Sun Newspapers and the Burlington County Times.
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