Friday, December 23, 2011

Giving tree bursts with gifts

YMCA helps bring Christmas wishes to valley children


By REBECCA MEANY
Express Staff Writer

Santa’s helper Channing Curci puts final touches on the Christmas setting at the YMCA on Wednesday. Curci was one of many little elves in the Y’s after-school program who helped make sure kids who submitted gift requests were united with donors granting those wishes. Photo by Roland Lane

The holiday spirit is in full swing, and many people are working to ensure that every Wood River Valley child feels a part of it.

The annual giving tree project coordinated by the Wood River YMCA is witnessing its best year yet, said Danna Cox, the Y's youth and family coordinator who also is in charge of the project.

"It's been the most successful giving tree we've had," she said. "In these economic times, that's amazing."

During the campaign, the YMCA works with organizations such as the Advocates for Survivors of Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault or the Hunger Coalition to gather kids' wish lists. The YMCA crafts ornaments to reflect those wishes, then kids camp participants help hang those ornaments on a tree. Donors then grant those wishes, leaving presents under the tree for holiday distribution.

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"The gifts are flowing out of the tree," Cox said. "We had a record number of ornaments and they've all been filled."

The 88 requests included bikes, boots, coats and basic toys.

"It unbelievable how inexpensive the requests were compared with last year," she said. "It's so sweet. It makes me want to give."

The YMCA teamed up with staff at the Advocates this year to grant Christmas wishes.

"It wasn't just us," Cox said. "It was the generosity of people. It definitely took a community effort."

The Y is aiming to fill 100 requests next year.

Rebecca Meany: rmeany@mtexpress.com




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