This year, you can make the Christmas holiday a little brighter for area children by buying a gift or offering a monetary donation to the Giving Tree project, an annual venture of the Theta Omega Chapter of ESA in conjunction with the Salvation Army.
“For over 30 years, this community project has provided gifts to Clay County area youth, ages 0 to 18 from low income families,” said ESA member Trudy Anthofer. “In 2019, the lives of 246 youth were provided with gifts for Christmas due to the generosity of the community!”
Due to COVID, the Giving Tree will look slightly different this year. The organization has downsized the number of trees with gift tags located throughout the community. They have also added envelopes so monetary donations can be left instead of having to return an unwrapped gift.
“The trees are located at Pizza Ranch, Davis Pharmacy, Hy-Vee, Sanford Hospital, the Vermillion Public Library, St. Agnes, and Wal-Mart,” said Anthofer. “Each tree is decorated with tags listing items the child needs and wants. Tags are then selected, gifts purchased and returned, unwrapped with tags attached, to any of the participating businesses. … Each tree also has donation envelopes for those who would prefer to financially support but not purchase gifts.”
Tags are available currently and are due back Dec. 5.
Since the Giving Tree project began more than 30 years ago, the number of families helped through the project has continued to increase.
“We see about a 20 percent increase each year,” said Anthofer. “At this time, we have 61 families that have applied for assistance this year.”
In the past, Giving Tree participants were located through the assistance of Social Services, Head Start, the Food Pantry, and the County Nurse. This year, ESA tried a different method – a paperless “request for gifts” through Survey Monkey. This new avenue has worked well, said Anthofer. She credits the community for the success of the Giving Tree.
“The project has grown every year with the support of the community!” Anthofer said. “Christmas is the season for sharing, giving, loving, and helping! Thank you for helping with our mission!”
Donations can be mailed to the ESA Giving Tree, PO Box 513, Vermillion SD 57069.