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LI Angels turned Hagerman building into a flea market, where everything was free

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The families of 700 local children were able to witness their very own Christmas miracle this weekend — all thanks to the Angels of Long Island.

Angels of Long Island is known for its special drives and events for Long Island families in need.

Those typically happen in the parking lot of their thrift and community outreach center at 350 East Main Street in Patchouge.

But this year, for their fifth annual Christmas Miracle “shopping” event, the Angels were able to transform a building at the Hagerman Fire Department property into a sort of indoor mall.

And everything inside was free for local families.

Debbie Loesch of Bellport, the group’s co-founder, helped gather donations from dozens of different sponsors and everyday people from across the island for this past weekend’s event.

On Saturday, Dec. 17, she, along with several dozen volunteers, took the whole day to set up shop, creating a shopping experience free to deserving families in need for the Dec. 18 event.

Each section of the space had different departments for those scheduled to stop in – girls and boys ages 0 to 3, 3-6, 7-9, 10-12, as well as a teen section.

“Every hour, 30 families will come down and pick five gifts per child with their own personal shopper,” Loesch said. “After they pick up their gifts, they will go to the pantry section and receive a full Christmas meal, including a turkey or a ham.”

Also that Sunday, outside the shop, they had a gift-wrapping tent where other Angels volunteers would finish up the trip.

Those services, too, were free to families.

But this was no free-for-all for anyone who rolled up.

Families needed to apply and were vetted. Those who qualified were invited to “shop.”

Hundreds of bicycles for kids of all ages lined the back wall, while Barbies, baby Yodas, sneakers, board games and play sets were placed upon nearly a dozen different tables, all up for grabs.

This is the first year the Angels were able to use the space provided by their friends at the fire department to host the shopping experience. In previous years, over the course of eight years since the nonprofit was founded, Loesch and her team of volunteers would host different events inside their storefront handing out giftbags for those in need.

But as word of the Angels’ event grew, the more donations came in, forcing the nonprofit to host events outside in the store’s parking lot then, finally, at the fire department.

This year’s presents and pantry, plus the donated space, were able to help 700 children get what they wanted from their Christmas lists.

“These kids sometimes come from homes that aren’t ideal, but they’re just as good as your kids or my kid,” Loesch said.

“Now, these children will get to experience the same Christmas as their peers.”

Photos by Julianne Mosher