Committed to helping the community through their charitable endeavors, MacDinton’s Irish Pub in St. Petersburg embraced the opportunity to create an Angel Tree and stock it with gifts to help children in need.
What started as a festive initiative to provide presents for 10 youngsters evolved into a rewarding initiative to brighten Christmas for 200 kids thanks to the overwhelming response from MacDinton’s staff members.
MacDinton’s general manager Patrick Clark originally planned to have each staff member help one child each. The final result, though, was a pleasant surprise.
“At first, we planned to take in donations to give gifts to 10 children,” Clark said. “That itself would have been meaningful, but when we were able to generate around $11,000 from our staff members for gifts, we were able to provide for each of the 200 children at the organization we are working with.”
Thanks to the $11,000 that was raised, the Angel Tree was stocked with $35 worth of gifts for each kid.
Michealina Belstrom, who is a bartender at MacDinton’s, teamed with her husband, Will; her brother, James; and family friend, Alfonso; to contribute substantial contribution. The story of how they gathered the funds is brimming with holiday cheer.
Belstrom and her family are not independently wealthy. All four work in the hospitality industry. Yet each week, they save 10 percent of their earnings so they can make a donation at year’s end.
“I grew up in a family with a lot of kids. My mother was a stay at home mom, and my dad was a laborer. A lot of times we didn’t have much, but a lot of time we were helped by contributions from other families, even though those families were not wealthy themselves,” Belstrom explained. “As I grew older, I realized just how meaningful the gestures of those families were. What they did was provide hope and excitement for us, and that is what we as a family want to do each year.”
Initially, Belstrom thought her family would have enough money to help a few of the children. Then the circumstances changed for the better.
“Last year, we gave our money to family friends whose son passed away suddenly, and they needed help with an assortment of expenses,” Belstrom said. “Around a week before Patrick announced that we would take part in the Angel Tree project, they (the family friends) gave us the money back since they sold their home and were financially comfortable again. They asked that we use the money to help someone else, and it was perfect timing.”
The unwrapped gifts were picked up a week before Christmas. They will be distributed to the families, who will wrap the presents and present them to the children on Christmas morning.
Out of respect to the privacy of the foster families and the organization they partner with, their names are kept confidential.