Laurel Beebe couldn't be more on board with the mission.

"Adopt an Angel believes children in protective custody deserve treats at Christmas. They didn't do anything wrong," she says. "I have a big heart for children, especially those mistreated at the hands of others."

For more than a decade, Beebe, a Fremont-based caterer, has volunteered her energies at Adopt an Angel, a program that aims to give hundreds of kids from low-income families or who are in foster care a Christmas morning worth remembering. The long-running charity has given thousands of gifts, doing its best to honor the wish lists of kids referred to them by Alameda County Child Protective Services and Terra Firma Diversion Educational Services.

This year, Adopt an Angel hopes to give gifts to more than 650 children. The gifts will usually be given in sets of three, with a primary "fun" gift like a bike, along with more practical presents like clothing. Chairwoman Georgia Butterfield hopes to be able to increase that number, and she marvels at the continued contributions from business donors and the community even amid tough economic times.

"Every year we wonder if we're going to be able to do it this year, and people keep giving to us," Butterfield said. "People can relate to hardship, and they're willing to give as much as they can."

Wish Book readers can help Adopt an Angel raise the money it needs. Each donation of $50 will go toward buying more than 100 bicycles and helmets, as well as other gifts.


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Beebe is among the most devoted to the cause. The San Jose native holds fundraising tea parties at her home and has worked to rally others to contribute their time or money to what is mostly a volunteer effort.

Last year, Beebe personally "adopted" 150 kids, mostly at her own expense, to ensure they had gifts. She said children aren't looking for "pie in the sky" items, but often want creature comforts, such as jackets, hoodies and jeans, or gift cards so they can choose their own styles. Pillows, linens and underwear are also among the modest requests.

"In a place like a group home, they just want something that's their own," she said.

Those who accept a wish list don't know the child's name -- and vice versa -- for privacy reasons. But that doesn't mean they don't feel the impact of their contributions, sometimes well after the holidays.

Beebe cites instances where she encountered someone who was a past recipient of Adopt an Angel gifts.

"She said, 'You have no idea how much these presents mean to these kids, when they wake up and know they have not been forgotten,' " she recalled.

Another reason Beebe chooses to contribute to Adopt an Angel is its local roots.

"It's a local project, I know it's supporting children in my community," she said.

Butterfield said the contributions of Beebe and more than 100 other volunteers -- wrapping gifts and hauling them around the Bay Area -- are vital to the program.

"She's one of those behind-the-scenes people who doesn't expect anything at all," Butterfield said. "These are people in the background and don't get rewards for it, they just do it from their heart.

Comments about Wish Book stories? Email wishbook@mercurynews.com or call coordinator Leigh Poitinger at 408-920-5972. "Like" our page at Facebook.com/mercurynews.wishbook.

HOW TO HELP
Readers can help Adopt an Angel raise money for gifts for children in need. Each donation of $50 will go toward buying 100 bicycles, helmets and other gifts. Donate to Wish Book at www.mercurynews.info/wishbook or clip the coupon.