It may have sprouted up at the last minute this year but Emo’s first “Tree of Giving” looks like it will grow into an annual event.
Christmas presents and stocking stuffers went out to about 30 needy children from Emo to Rainy River as a result of the program organized by two Emo women who have asked to remain anonymous.
“It was a wonderful turnout,” one of them said. “It was a tremendous response considering it was started only two-and-a-half weeks before Christmas.
“The spirit of Christmas is alive and well in Emo,” she enthused. “We’ll certainly do it next year.”
Cards listing a child’s age and gender were placed on the Christmas tree set up at the CIBC branch in Emo. The bank also was used as a drop-off point for the donated presents.
“I think it was an overwhelming success,” CIBC manager Bill Langner remarked. “They brought down cards with children’s age groups on it and the first dozen or so they brought were gone within the first day.
“I think they brought cards down three or four different times,” he recalled.
“I want to tell the people at CIBC . . . [they] were wonderful,” noted the organizer, adding the employees exhibited the “true meaning of Christmas.”
“I couldn’t have picked a better place to ask [to do this],” she said.
The pair got the idea from a similar program which runs in Florida. St. George’s Anglican Church in Emo provided them with a phone line to take calls from interested volunteers while several area schools helped identify children in need.
“We had a couple of 16-year-olds [get presents],” an organizer said. “We originally were going to go up to 14 but when you get a large family, you can’t not give to the older kids so we extended it.”
Meanwhile, plans already are in the works for next year’s “Tree of Giving.” Only this time, the organizers want to get to have the cards available for the public by the beginning of December, which means collecting all the children’s names before that.
“What I’d like to do is ask the kids what they want for Christmas,” she said, noting that way they could specify certain gifts on the tree. “That’s what they do in Florida because not every little girl wants a doll and not every little boy wants a truck.”
She added she’d like to use the tree at the CIBC again next year if it doesn’t mind, which doesn’t seem to be a problem for Langner.
“We’d like to see it as an annual event,” he said. “It helps out the needy and [having it here] is fairly convenient for the people wishing to make donations.”