Area children, senior citizens and even animals will benefit from the generosity of people in the community.
A number of giving trees are sprouting up at locations throughout Umatilla and Morrow counties. While out Christmas shopping, people are encouraged to consider the opportunity to help brighten the holiday season for those who might be less fortunate. A number of businesses and organizations have set up trees and people can stop by and choose tags and shop for requested items.
The Salvation Army Pendleton Corps sets up several Angel Trees in order to receive gifts for needy children ages 0-14 throughout the Pendleton and Hermiston areas. Helen Markle, a volunteer with the organization, said while The Salvation Army provides help to people in need throughout the year, they boost their efforts around Christmas.
“This is the season of giving,” she said. “We want to be sure each child has at least something under the tree.”
In its 18th year, The Giving Tree at Hamley’s Western Store in Pendleton is filled with tags. Wish lists were submitted through the Pendleton School District, the Oregon Department of Human Services, Umatilla County Human Services and the Umatilla County Care Program.
“The Giving Tree has helped local struggling families experience a little Christmas joy,” said Julie Thompson.
For people that don’t have the time to shop but still want to help, cash donations are accepted and someone else will shop for presents. People who drop off gifts for the program will receive a special discount from Hamley’s and will be entered into a drawing for a photo shoot by Bailey Lankford.
In its third year, an effort to provide for area animals was spearheaded by Pendleton Animal Welfare Shelter. The tree at D&B Supply in Pendleton even includes tags with photos of current cats and dogs at PAWS, said Sara Hebard-Hinkle, a stove department sales associate.
A former PAWS board member, she is thrilled about the effort to help provide for animals. Everything from pet food and dog beds to leashes and blankets are needed. In addition, Hebard-Hinkle encourages people to consider volunteering their time.
“They need every bit of help that they can get,” Hebard-Hinkle said. “We’re the number one place in town that sells pet supplies and we want to do our part in helping animals.”
Residents of Sun Terrace and Regency Hermiston, adult assisted living facilities in Hermiston, will receive gifts through a Senior Giving Tree at the Hermiston Safeway store. Also, seniors living at Willowbrook Terrace and Elizabethan Manor, both in Pendleton, have benefited from a giving tree at Rite-Aid in Pendleton for 25 years.
Rite-Aid assistant manager Juanita Brown said seniors are often overlooked, as people focus on providing gifts for children during the holiday season.
“The giving trees all have the same goal,” Markle said. “We want to make their Christmas better.”