DENVER – A longtime foster parent and adoptive mother of two is partnering with the Lincoln County Department of Social Services, setting up an Angel Tree in her new gift shop to help supply Christmas presents for children in need this holiday season.
“I’ve been taking in foster children for 20 years,” Patti D’Ausilio, owner of Lake Norman Gifts, said. “We’ve taken in more than 50 babies and almost all of them have gone home to a relative, so we’re just blessed to be able to help when needed. Right now we have a 20-year-old, who lived with us for three years as a foster child and he came back to live with us again when he turned 18.”
D’Ausilio started fostering after her three biological children were grown and out of the house. Even after the children leave her care and, in most instances, return to family, D’Ausilio is more than happy to be called upon for child care – or just to simply spend some time with the children she opened her home to – when their caregivers need a helping hand.
“I’ve always loved kids,” she said. “I have five children; three of my own and then two that I’ve adopted, and then a lot of grandkids. Now I’m able to take in foster children and fill in the gaps where they need care and it’s just been so rewarding.”
Her efforts to provide for children in the social services system extend beyond fostering as she’s set up an Angel Tree at Lake Norman Gifts, which opened in September.
“There’s a lot of kids that are not exactly ‘foster children,’ but they’re in what’s called kinship care, which is when relatives who weren’t expecting to care for the child take them in out of the kindness of their heart, and we want to help them too this time of year,” D’Ausilio said.
The Christmas tree at the gift shop is decorated with paper angels, which include the age of the child the angel represents and a list of needs and wants for Christmas. Those interested in giving back can simply visit the store, grab an angel and purchase items off the list to gift to the child. The purchased items are then returned to the store and D’Ausilio works with social services agents to ensure the children have the presents to open Christmas morning.
“We get a list of children through DSS and those children have written out a list of their Christmas wishes,” D’Ausilio said of the program. “The wishes are listed on the tree and people are welcome to grab one and buy the items to give back to these children who aren’t getting anything for Christmas unless there’s someone willing to help.”
For those who want to help but can’t find the time during the busy holiday season, Lake Norman Gifts will accept monetary donations and use those funds to purchase items off one of the wishlists. The Angel Tree will be up through Dec. 15, which is the deadline to drop off gifts or monetary donations.
While visiting Lake Norman Gifts to assist the Angel Tree program, there’s also the chance to do a little holiday shopping. The shop has something to offer for everyone, including a variety of children’s toys, Christmas ornaments and decorations, household items, outdoor decor, fragrance sprays and clothing.
“We were selling items online out of my garage since COVID started, so we’re blessed to have a store to operate out of this holiday season,” D’Ausilio said. “We’re so excited to be open for everyone to come explore what we have to offer. We aim to be a shop where you can just drop by, pick up a gift, have it wrapped and off you go. If there is anything special you’re looking for, or if you need a certain item we don’t have in the store, just let us know and we’ll be glad to help you find it.”
Lake Norman Gifts is on N.C. 16 Business, across from Westport Baptist Church. Visit lakenormangifts.com for a look at the store’s inventory and call 704-966-1295 for more information on the Angel Tree program.
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