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Helping run our school’s Angel Tree service project

Delivering gifts to our partner school in 2017.

Every year, Lexie’s elementary school does an Angel Tree for families in need from our school as well as our “partner” school. (In our school district, every school PTA is paired up with another school to help that PTA with advice or volunteers. Usually a more well-to-do school is paired with a less fortunate school.) It isn’t done at all schools, but we have a tradition with our PTA of doing an Angel Tree as a service project.

And since I am PTA president this year, of course, I am more involved in the project than I have been in the past. Most years, I have just bought items. Last year, I helped cart over the goodies. This year, I did both those things as well as advertise the event and organized the wrapped gifts that came in. Luckily, I had someone else who was actually in charge of the event.

It was her job to contact the counselors at each school.  The counselors select families in need of a little help during the holiday season and submits wish lists of items these families need. It could be household items, clothes or toys for the kids. The lady in charge then put the list online for people to sign up. We had 16 families at our school and 18 at our partner school.

Now many Angel Trees stop gifts for kids past the age of 12, but we don’t abide by that. We give gifts to everyone in the family, whether they are two months old or 17 years old. We also give to the parents and address family needs which can be anything from blankets, towels, kitchen supplies to just cleaners, laundry detergent or shampoo. In the end, we had 168 individuals or family needs on our list. Wow!

I have had friends in the past who have had to rely on Angel Tree for their kids to have anything for Christmas, so I am always happy to help. I started with adopting one kid and then moved to adopting two – one for each of my kids to help. Of course, Lexie and Jase don’t fully understand the struggle these families endure. They have a room full of toys and can’t imagine kids being happy with clothes or shoes as gifts. But we always gave those items in addition to a toy.

As the years went on this morphed into me adopting the whole family, so we would adopt two kids and buy something for the parents (usually clothes) and buy whatever their family needs were. It is hard not to go overboard with buying so I always set a budget.

This year, I decided to forgo the buying items for kids. I looked at the family needs for some of the family needs from our “partner” school. They wanted cleaning supplies, laundry detergent and blankets. I happen to be at Sam’s Club and noted that many of the cleaners came in packages of 4 so it only seemed logical to “adopt” four families. I bought laundry baskets, trash bags, laundry detergent and blankets from my local grocery store to add to the cleaners I bought at Sam’s Club. I then added tissue boxes and paper towels from my own supplies. I think they turned out very well. (Sorry for the slightly blurry photo.)

Since our Angel Tree had so many families/individuals on the list, we struggled to fill some of the last spots, which were for parents who were asking for clothes. I looked at the list and saw that many of the moms wanted jackets. I had just come into some extra dough after selling something on Craigslist, so I took that money and bought three jackets and then at least one other thing on their list – a scarf, a candle, a shirt and a hat and gloves. Yes, after doing 4 family needs, I “adopted” three more people – and spent exactly the amount I made from Craigslist.

And a week after the due date for all the gifts, our PTA room was swamped with wrapped packages. We have a very generous community. Everyone on that list got multiple things. Some had 2-3 wrapped packages, but I saw kids with 6 or 7 gifts, including a bicycle!

It took us four SUVs to haul over the portion that went to our partner school. They were ecstatic to see all those packages and couldn’t wait to deliver them to the needy families. What a great feeling to know you are helping others have a brighter, happier Christmas!

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