Everybody needs one – a guardian angel to swoop down and help in times of trouble and hardship.

The angel may come in the form of a family member who loves us through challenging times or a friend who comes alongside us to guide us to a better place or even a stranger who is willing to act without knowing our whole story. That’s exactly what the Children’s Place Guardian Angel program does for the little ones in its therapeutic childcare – generous community members provide the funding to buy basic necessities like new socks, coats, shoes and pajamas for the children and developmental toys, books and equipment for Children’s Place to help the children through the challenges they face, be they mental, emotional or physical.

It may sound like a trivial gift – new socks, underwear, shoes – not what most kids would ask Santa for. But for some at-risk children, these items give them the confidence and emotional boost necessary to face the sometimes difficult journey ahead.

“We are so grateful to those who give to our Guardian Angel program,” said Peggy Ford, director of Children’s Place. “I cannot express how much it means to these children to have new clothing and the difference it makes in their outlook on life.”

Children’s Place hopes to add new “angel” donors to its list of faithful supporters in order to help reach its goal of $60,000. These funds will not only clothe 90 needy children but will also supply their occupational, physical and therapeutic programs with much-needed equipment and supplies.

“Unfortunately, the needs of our children and our programs increase every year while state and federal funding continues to decrease,” Ford said. “We rely on the generous Aiken community to help us fund these programs.”

Children’s Place works with families to decrease abuse and neglect of children, increase stability in families and improve children’s readiness for school. Children may be referred to Children’s Place because of behavior problems, developmental difficulties and abuse or neglect. Annually, 120 children and their families from throughout the county receive daily services from Children’s Place Inc., a United Way of Aiken County agency.

Family Matters, the new parenting outreach program, was established through a partnership with Growing Home Southeast and the S.C. Department of Social Services. It allows Children’s Place to reach out to struggling parents who have been referred to DSS but don’t meet the level of threat necessary to get state-mandated intervention. Families who meet those requirements will be referred to Children’s Place to receive the help they need to make their families stronger. For more information on Children’s Place or to make a donation, call Kelly Findley at 641-4145 or email kellyfindley@yahoo.com.