Community steps up for Sharing Tree effort

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District is delivering 384 boxes full of presents this week to needy Sweet Home children at the Fire Hall, and Sweet Home Police Department’s Blue Santa delivered presents to 82 teens Friday.

Organizers for both sharing trees reported that the Sweet Home community was especially generous this year.

SHPD Community Services Officer Gina Riley told the story of a woman who didn’t take a tag or shop for any children. She just dropped by and dropped off 10 envelopes, each with a $100 bill.

The need was about average, said Shannon Strubhar, a volunteer who headed up the fire department’s Sharing Tree, which serves children through the age of 12.

The community stepped up, she said. Major donors included Holley Church, Weyerhaeuser, the high school leadership class and junior high achievement trip shoppers. Sweet Home Sanitation donated bicycles, and hundreds of community members came in and took tags from the tree then returned presents for the children named on those tags.

The fire department received many cash donations as well, Strubhar said.

She had about a half dozen volunteers to help organize the presents, she said. “It’s definitely a group effort.”

Riley said the department reached out to the School District this year for its Shop with a Cop program and its teen Sharing Tree, rather than looking to the Department of Human Services and foster children.

Organizers were looking for children in families that are struggling but might not be the kind who will ask, she said. She also turned to officers who may have had contact with families like that.