Union ArcAngels: Unions Giving Back
A story worth sharing of a toy drive tradition for organized labor in Pennsylvania
This post was written by the PA AFL-CIO.
There are 236 union ArcAngels in Lancaster County this year. Since 2004, the Lancaster County Central Labor Council has taken part in the ArcAngels program by buying, wrapping, and giving Christmas presents for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Throughout her tenure, Lancaster’s Central Labor Council President Jean Martin has focused the labor movement’s efforts in the community on service.
These Christmas angels are just one of their many annual projects. Members of the Council and the Lancaster County locals, receive the first name, wished for present and the caseworker’s information. They go out and shop for gifts, wrap them and deliver them to the Arc.
“Every year I have to ask for more and more [names] because so many members want to give. We have one member who takes eight. He and his wife just love going out and giving,” said CLC President Jean Martin. “It’s the simple things people ask for; puzzles, art supplies, games. It touches your heart.”
“We try and focus on the elderly people living in group homes, folks who tend to be forgotten. A lot of these folks don’t have family left. This is often the only gift they get,” reflected President Martin.
Over the last 14 years, the Lancaster CLC has grown their involvement in the ArcAngel program from 20 angels to 236, their biggest year yet. This year 11 local labor unions participated with the council including AFSCME 1758, AFSCME 1896, BCTGM 374, BCTGM 387, CWA Local 13000, GMP 287, GMP 376, IBEW 1600, UA 520, USW 670. “I like doing this because I really like to give,” said one Steelworker to Jean.