St. Dominic Giving Tree project
By Michelle Donaghey
The Giving Tree at St. Dominic Parish in Bremen was the reason some families in that community had a brighter Christmas Day. The project, which has been going on for over 20 years, helped nine families with 24 children, ranging in age from infant to 18 years of age.
Project Coordinator Patty Compton explained that the Giving Tree project gets gifts to families in need beginning with gift tags that are hung on small trees at the entrances of the church, starting the first week of Advent.
The first parish Giving Tree probably started at least around 23 years ago, Compton thought. She said she became involved more with it around 15 years ago, when her daughter was a toddler and she bought a present to donate. Mom decided she would like to become regularly involved with the project, which she feels is a wonderful way to help others. Another parishioner, Michele Lafferty, and parish secretary Andrea Mallory, are regular helpers. Some others parishioners have helped as well over the years.
In order to find out who is in need, the Bremen school nurse and the Woman’s Care Center are contacted. “They give us forms the family has filled out that tell us age and gift preferences. We then hang two gift requests per child. We (also) hang tags for cash or gift card donations for the families, donations for the food pantry and donations for Marshall County Care & Share,” Compton said. “We trade the cash for gift cards through Scrip (program) and we divide that up per family.”
Every year the coordinators also put in a request in the parish bulletin for parishioners to share the names of families they think need help for the holidays, but there is rarely any response, said Compton.
Those who take tags are asked to bring the wrapped gifts or gift cards or donations to church. Gifts include a tag on the wrapped gift or on the envelope, which makes sorting easier for those involved.
On the afternoon of the last Sunday of Advent, gifts are sorted according to the address to which they are to be delivered. Volunteers then take the gifts to the address, along with a Christmas card and gift cards for the families.
This year the total number of families helped was “typical,” said Compton, adding, “Some years there are more, some years less.”
Compton said she is thankful for Lafferty and for Mallory, who “has become so very helpful over the years. She has taken calls and referred families to us, and she does the majority of the money handling and Scrip exchanging for us, since by the rules all money has to go through church money counters. St. Dominic is blessed for all the help.”
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