Costa Rica

Be an Angel!


Tina and Carole

Grab an angel from Tina’s tree and be an angel for a child at Christmas time! Eight years ago Tina Newton started a tradition of the Angel Tree, which is set up at Su Espacio, her community center in Atenas. I’ve been attending Dance-Fit classes regularly, which are led by Tina on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On a Tuesday in early November, I was surprised to see a Christmas tree set up in the sitting area. I refuse to entertain anything ‘Christmassy’ until after Thanksgiving! This makes it hard to walk around anywhere in Costa Rica because I started seeing Christmas decorations set up in public places in October – before Halloween! Sheesh.

As I got closer to Tina’s Tree, I realized there were cardboard angels on the tree with writing on them.


Oh. I get it. We have to start early so all three hundred plus kids get a sponsor, and there is ample time for shopping, wrapping and delivery. This is a huge undertaking starting with cutting out, coloring, labeling, and numbering each angel. Tina has spearheaded this tremendous effort with her heart-of-gold and cheerful enthusiasm. My friend, Gail, and I were there for class. While we waited for the 8:00 start time, she removed two angels from the tree. Well! If she’s taking two, I’m taking two! My own children, a boy and a girl, are adults. I got a thrill picking out a ten year old boy and an eight year old girl. It didn’t hit me until later; my two are two years apart. I get to play “Mommy-Santa” again!

Not only that, I get to bake cookies. The awesome expat community here in Atenas threw a kick-off party at the beautiful home of Mike and Joni in Barrio Mercedes just the other day. Yes, it is still before Thanksgiving, BUT!

Tina, Carole, and Joni

Tina, Carole, and Joni

I certainly see why. The party for the children will be December 9th. The hosts of the kick-off party, Tony & Rose, Mary, Mike & Joni, and Judy & Roxi did way more than the “Wine and Cheese” I was expecting. The array of elegant food was fabulous; the gathering was warm, welcoming, and garnered a bushel of support for the Angel project. The donation jar filled up as did the sign-up sheet of cookie-bakers, volunteers for the Children’s Party where Spanish speakers are needed, and Angels from the tree were taken home.

When I moved to Costa Rica as an expat (I don’t use the ‘R’ word ’cause it sounds too old) I intended to keep a low profile, sit in a peaceful spot, and write my memoirs. I was the cookie-baker at every fundraiser that ever existed when my kids were in school. I flipped the burgers at Little League games, became president of the PTA, volunteered as a room mother, etc. After twenty-eight years as a real estate agent, I attended every mixer available. I thought I was done. As the saying goes: “Wherever you go, there you are.” Here I am again, happily participating with my fellow expats in community affairs for a more than worthy cause.

What pleasure we derive from giving!

If you haven’t already signed up, grab an angel, and be an angel. It can be anywhere, not necessarily part of the Atenas project. The most fun is to be a secret angel. It makes you giggle!






3 thoughts on “Be an Angel!

  1. Hi Carol

    We thought you would be in Texas this week. We will be in Atenas tomorrow and I would love to help. Let me know if we can meet somewhere some time. Pura Vita! Not to mention the chicaron is a-mazing.

    David and Norma Jean


  2. Carole, I love this blog story! Tina brought her enthusiasm & commitment to these special kids to the Farmers’ Market (our local Feria as we know it) a couple of Friday’s ago, where I happily picked up my Angels for this year. You’re right–it’s fun being a “Secret Angel,” and I can hardly wait to see the children’s happy faces next week. I’ll also be there as a volunteer this year, with my “mas o menos” Spanish. I know already it will be a wonderful, Spirit of Christmas day! Hugs to you.


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