Time to Branch Out and Give
By Vanessa Desmarais / December 1, 2017
During this time of year that is often spent receiving, take a moment to consider what it means to give. With the excitement of the holidays, it can be easy to forget about those who are less fortunate. However, the truth of the matter is, there are many people within our own community who struggle when it comes to obtaining everyday necessities, not to mention having the means to provide gifts for children. There are several opportunities for everyone to help, whether it is through volunteer work or donations. One of the local organizations that participates in lending a helping hand to the Palm Beach County area is The Giving Tree.
The Giving Tree is a non-profit organization that was established more than 25 years ago by Myra Singer, a member of Temple Beth El, a local synagogue in Boca Raton. Myra established The Giving Tree after realizing that there were many people in the community who were struggling to make ends meet. Since then, the organization has seen hundreds of volunteers each year and has helped more than 2,000 people in the Palm Beach County area.
Help is offered to people who reach out to The Giving Tree through agencies that sponsor those in need. The agencies that work with The Giving Tree include Best Foot Forward, Caridad, Children's Home Society, Family Promise of Boca Raton, and more. Each of these organizations offers different services to people in need in the surrounding areas. These services include housing assistance, afterschool and educational programs, as well as helping foster children who have been neglected or abused.
The Giving Tree organization is run entirely on a volunteer basis. During the holiday season, they need more volunteers to help spread holiday cheer to the less fortunate. Anyone is welcome to participate in the volunteer program, even children, provided they are accompanied by an adult. The volunteer work includes gathering and sorting through donated items, wrapping presents for the children, and helping to deliver them on Christmas Eve. This year's location for the volunteer work will be the T-Rex Corporate Center, located down the street from Temple Beth El on Yamato Road in Boca Raton.
Donations are accepted in all shapes, sizes, and quantities. However much or little a person can give is always appreciated. Donations can vary from everyday necessities to holiday gifts for the children. Everyday necessities include school supplies, clothes, hygiene products, and other similar products. Gently used electronics are welcomed as well. These include gaming consoles, iPods, cameras, and computers. Gift cards from Walmart, Target, or VISA/AMEX are also accepted to help adults and seniors pay for food and gas. To arrange for these items to be picked up, email TheGivingTreeBoca@gmail.com. During the holiday season, it is also possible to drop the donations off at this year's volunteer location.
While year-round donations and volunteer work is encouraged, The Giving Tree offers a special opportunity to those in the community during the holiday season. The Holiday Gift Program consists of children's Wish Lists. Those who volunteer to participate in this event will receive a Wish List from a child who has found themselves in a circumstance that prevents them from receiving any gifts for the holiday season. The volunteer who is assigned the Wish List is in charge of shopping for this child's desired Christmas items, which the volunteer will later drop off at this years volunteer location. Although the child's identity and personal details remain anonymous, the donor will be left knowing that they played a part in helping a child smile on Christmas morning.
The Giving Tree is an organization that has not only had a positive effect on those in need, but also on those who have participated as volunteers. Judy Gordon, one of the co-chairs of the organization, claims that her work with The Giving Tree has allowed her to obtain a better understanding of the amount of need within the community that surrounds us. Judy said, "Right here in our own backyard, there are children who go without meals and don't have the necessary things to help them be successful."
So often, we feel as though helping people is beyond our abilities. Either the people in need are too far away or the amount of help needed is too great. Thanks to organizations such as The Giving Tree, people are granted an opportunity to help those in need. Judy said, "People are so generous. They don't know how to give, so when they hear about us, it gives them the opportunity."
Donations, no matter how large or small, as well as time spent volunteering, no matter how long or short, make all the difference in the world to someone without means. For more information on how you can help, email The Giving Tree at TheGivingTreeBoca@gmail.com or call Temple Beth El at 561-391-8900.
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