The Copake Country Club will host four families in need on Christmas, providing food, activities and presents.
The Urban family, which owns the Craryville country club, has hosted needy families for the past three years, in an attempt to spread a little Christmas cheer to some who may not be able to celebrate the holiday like others.
“A few years ago we decided we were going to host an event in the restaurant, which is closed Christmas,” Austin Urban said. “We wanted to pass along the Christmas spirit.”
The family started reaching out to churches, but found the churches had their own Christmas events, so the Urbans reached out to the Columbia County Department of Social Services.
The department was interested and agreed to help.
The department finds families in need and connects them with the Urbans, while also putting together a gift list for the Urban family and as providing the families with transportation to the club.
“We get them about everything they want for Christmas,” Austin said. “We also get a tree and decorate the restaurant. Our chef precooks all the meals the day before.”
The whole family, club owners Jon and Kim and their sons Austin and Tanner, and neighbors of the club help put the day together before Christmas arrives.
The day at the club goes from about 11 a.m. until about 5 p.m. and includes lunch and dinner, gift opening, a bonfire and holiday activities such as making gingerbread houses, crafts and, if there is snow on crafts and, if there is snow on the ground, sledding.
“We try to make it a very special Christmas for them,” Austin said. “It is something they would not otherwise have.”
The Department of Social Services refused to disclose how it selects families for the event, said Assistant to the Commissioner Anne Delaney, but the families are found through the department’s homeless unit. The department also declined to identify the families.
“The department just assists the club in choosing families,” Delaney said. “Because of confidentiality, we do not release any information.”
This year the country club will host four families, fewer than past years when up to six families have been guests, Austin said. But Austin said two families have come back each year and the Urbans have fostered a good relationship with them.
“I guess it is good that there are less, because there are less families in need,” Austin said. “There will always be people who have no place to go or anything to do on Christmas. There will always be people who could use this. We will always be offering this.”
In Greene County, the Senior Angels Program, which is sponsored by the Greene County Department of Human Services, delivered gifts to 250 local seniors so they have presents to open on Christmas. Senior Angels also donated a 65-inch television to The Pines at Catskill for its activity room.
Senior Angels started handing out gifts, which were purchased with help from donations made by members of the community, last week, and finished Wednesday in time for seniors to open them at various Christmas parties local homes hold before Christmas.
In addition to The Pines, Senior Angels delivered presents to The Eliot at Catskill, 122 Jefferson Heights, Home Sweet Home On the Hudson in Catskill, Rivertown Senior Center in Athens and other centers around the county.
“We shoot out a blast email asking people to let us know about any seniors who might be alone on Christmas,” said Ken Brooks, chairman of the Greene County Senior Angels Program. “We get present lists from everyone, which are usually clothes, and get most of what they ask for.”
Senior Angels purchases most of the gifts from Walmart, which gives a 15 percent discount, including gift cards to Walmart.
“We try to spend at least $50 per person,” Brooks said. “We enjoy doing this. It is a lot of fun.”
This year Senior Angels received almost $17,000 in donations from the community, with donations ranging from $5 to $1,000, which is the largest amount the program has ever received. Last year the program received $14,252 in total donations.