Giving Tree concludes another successful holiday season
For the 17th consecutive year, BU's SOLVE Office had a very successful Giving Tree campaign. This year more than 100 area children benefitted from the effort. In its history the Giving Tree program has sent out more than 3,000 gifts. In most years, nearly 200 individuals are granted a Christmas wish in the form of a new toy, clothing or another special item from their lists.
At the start of the season students with small Christmas trees solicit help from staff, faculty and students who choose a paper ornament from the trees. The paper decorations each have information about the Christmas wish of a specific child.
Through the SOLVE Office’s SHARE (Students Helping Adolescents Reach Excellence) program, in which BU students mentor and tutor kids in kindergarten through 12th grade, the wishes of each child are learned.
Working with contacts at four area schools, the local Women’s Center and Geisinger Medical Center SHARE members and SOLVE workers compile the lists and make the ornaments that are chose by the participants who help make Christmas dreams come true for kids.
Each of the BU participants buys some of the gifts that are listed on the chosen ornament for the child in need. Then gifts are returned to the SOLVE Office where staff members work to sort and wrap the gifts. At the end of the semester, each participating organization came to campus to pick up the gifts that will be shuttled to each of the kids to help make their holidays brighter than then otherwise may have been.
No participant who asks for a present is ever left without a gift. If ornaments are unclaimed or someone who takes an ornament is unable to provide the present the SOLVE staff buys the gift. Over the years, the funding has come from donations via BU's Secretarial Roundtable and from individual and group donations by campus organizations and academic departments.
In 1995, at the program’s start, the children who benefitted were just from Columbia/Sullivan Head Start. Also at about that time, a SOLVE work-study student knew of a kids’ clothing company, Heartstrings, that had a program to donate high-end youth clothing for similar projects. For about a decade Heartstrings sent enough clothing for the SOLVE Office to set up a small kids’ clothing boutique that filled Christmas wishes.
The number of organizations to benefit grew as the SOLVE Office began its long association with local schools through the SHARE program. But not just schools have participated. Nursing homes, shelters and medical centers have been among the organizations with clients who have benefitted. And some children who received gifts were reached through the work of social workers involved with youth at risk as well as the CMSU (Columbia Montour Snyder Union) Service System. #BUServes