Christmas Giving Trees
By William Mahler
“We have been going through a very difficult time, and this helped me to remember that there really are good people in this world that want to lend a helping hand to someone in need. Someday, I hope to be in the position to help another family just like someone helped mine.” – Chantel, a client of Wellspring Lutheran Services
“I can’t afford beds so I called you guys. The boys were so excited for beds…. We went to the park, which they love, … and my youngest son said, ‘I just want to go home and lay on my bed.’” – Rachael (single mother of two boys), a client of Friends in Deed
“I love the idea of the Giving Tree. Because I love all things babies and children, I always pick a few tags that involve this age group. It has brought me such joy to shop and purchase something for a child that may be doing without a basic need. Last year I made a baby doll for a 3-year-old little girl. I then purchased a couple of requested outfits and matched them with the baby doll’s outfit. My heart was full of joy. For me, it was a wonderful way to start the Christmas Season! I like the idea that I don’t have to think about what they might need. It’s right on the tag.” – Bridget Wolk, a member at Living Water
As a way of sharing the joy of Christmas with families like Chantel’s and Rachael’s, all three St. Luke sites have been providing a Christmas Giving Tree for many years. They give all of us a chance to help families and individuals in need during this special time of the year.
At the same time, they enrich our appreciation for God’s greatest gift to all of us–His Son in the form of a helpless infant who grew up to be the Savior of the world. Whether you participate as an individual, like Bridget, or a family, you will be blessed by taking one or more tags and bringing the indicated item(s) back to church for distribution by various agencies.
A new feature of the program this year (actually an old feature from years past) is that most of the ornaments were decorated by the children and volunteers from Parents’ Night Out. We thank them for their contribution toward sharing the joy of Christmas.
When bringing a gift, please be sure to peel off the sticker and attach it securely to the gift bag, using clear tape or staples if necessary. You may keep the ornament for your family Christmas tree or put it in the bag as an extra gift.
These families really need our help. Please pray that God has you pick the right tag(s) this year. Remember what II Corinthians says, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Here are the details for the three sites:
Living Water – The Giving Tree will be decorated with gift tags for needy families in Northfield Township and the St. Luke community, starting Nov. 15. There are specific gift requests for children, teens and adults, as well as tags for grocery gift certificates that can be purchased locally. Diapers are always needed. Please pick up an instruction sheet at the Giving Tree located in the WLHS Atrium. Gifts can be brought to Living Water starting on Sunday, November 22, and no later than Sunday, December 6. Monetary donations are also welcome and should be made payable to “Living Water” with “Adopt-a-Family” in the memo line. Contact Linda Murdock at email@example.com with questions.
St. Luke, Ann Arbor – The Giving Tree will be up on Nov. 22, and all gifts need to be brought to church by Dec. 13. There will be three types of tags this year.
(1) Some will be similar to the ones at Living Water, but the gifts will be distributed by Wellspring Lutheran Services (formerly Lutheran Child and Family Services). The tags have the first name, gender, age, sizes (if appropriate), and gift ideas for children and some adults. In order to have everyone in a family receive gifts of comparable worth and give families the opportunity to provide their own gifts of comparable value next year, Wellspring asks that you spend approximately $25 per person. They also ask that you put the gift(s) for each person unwrapped in a gift bag with the sticker from the ornament firmly attached.
(2) Gift cards of $25 from Meijer or Walmart will be used by the church staff to help people affiliated with one of our sites with special needs throughout the year.
(3) Donations of $25 to Friends in Deed will be part of their annual bed drive. Beds are the most requested type of furniture, and there are often none available when they are needed. The funds are used to purchase new beds at discounted, wholesale prices.
Contact Linda and Bill Mahler at firstname.lastname@example.org or at the tree on Sunday mornings with questions.
University Lutheran Chapel – The Giving Tree will be up the same dates and have the same tags as St. Luke (see above). Contact Kathryn Shindeldecker at email@example.com with questions.