A story about the Soroptimists Sharing Tree published on the front page of the Dec. 15 edition of The Chronicle has generated some questions about who benefitted from donated gifts. I would like to clear up any misconceptions.
Soroptimists started the Sharing Tree program almost 20 years ago to ensure children in the welfare system would have a few nice Christmas presents.
Over the years, the Sharing Tree has grown to include children in foster care, those with relatives, and children living with families struggling financially. Every year, when those of us at the Department of Social and Health Services put the list together, we try to identify those with the most need. We try not to include families who we know have other resources to count on. We also make an effort to review the list of presents, so they include reasonably priced gifts.
Over the years, the number of children served has grown from about 125 to 300. Soroptimists, the staff at North Cascades Bank and the children who make the ornaments for the tree all donate their time to organize this project.
To keep it sustainable in the future, we will have to limit the list to about 225 children.
When reporter Dee Camp spoke with me before Christmas, she asked if we ever see the children who receive the gifts or receive expressions of appreciation from the families.
The answer is yes. The gifts are very much appreciated. And in many families, these are the only presents the children received.
In many cases, the presents were delivered to families whose homes were bereft of the tinsel, glitter and indulgence that is part of most people’s holiday season. There were no brightly lit trees in these homes and Christmas dinner was not the feast most of us come to expect.
Presents were also delivered to families who have opened their hearts to children of relatives experiencing the financial strain of additional mouths to feed.
We recognize the Sharing Tree is a huge effort taking a great deal of time and support from North Cascades Bank, Soroptimists and the community.
The community “Santas” who buy presents bring a great deal of joy and hope to many children. Many of the donors go above and beyond to provide very generous gifts for our children.
As we pass through some economically lean times, this generosity reminds us of how lucky we are to live in a community that has compassion for those who are struggling.
Susan Danielson is the supervisor
of children’s administration for
the state Department of Social
and Health Services.