A Giving Tree is a popular charitable initiative during the holiday season.
For those unaware of the concept, a Giving Tree is essentially a Christmas tree decorated with gift tags dangling from branches by festive colored ribbon.
These tags are not blank however, for they have a very important job – carrying the holiday wishes of children and teenagers with limited resources.
They’re typically found in shopping malls, religious institutions, schools, hospitals, and most recently, virtually online in order to reach as many charitable givers as possible.
During this celebrated time of year, children of all ages are anxiously compiling their Christmas lists and sending them to the North Pole (or to Santa’s helpers, also known as “parents”).
Like the Giving Tree, these lists are comprised of wishes, but that’s where the similarities stop.
Many children and teenagers wish for meaningless, materialistic possessions which often lose their luster by the time spring arrives like toys, electronics, games, high-end clothing, movie passes, and the list goes on and on.
But wishes mean something infinitely more on the Giving Tree.
This year, my wife and I participated in a community Giving Tree and were incredibly humbled by the requests.
One teenage boy wished for a pair of warm, outdoor work boots. Why is that worth mentioning you might ask? He wasn’t asking for himself, but rather for his father who worked out in the cold day in and day out.
Another teenage girl wished for a few pairs of pants with matching shirts. Again, not for herself but for her five-year-old sister.
All this was rounded out by countless wishes for other basic necessities – the overwhelming majority being Gift Cards to local grocery stores.
It’s difficult to imagine a child or teenager at Christmas time wishing for presents with an intended purpose rather than something with material value. But it happens more often than you might think in communities across the country and across the world.
If you’ve been scratching your head trying to fill up your Christmas list, then congratulations. You already have everything you need (and probably more).
So, why not find yourself a Giving Tree, pull off a few tags and give someone a Christmas gift which will brighten their spirits long after the holidays are over.
For as author and journalist Eric Sevareid once said, “Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves.”