Sharing Tree donors come through big

The Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District’s Sharing Tree served 207 families and nearly 500 children this year.

“The community really stepped up and donated a lot,” said Shannon Strubhar, co-chairwoman of the Sharing Tree program with Cassie Richey. “We really didn’t have to shop for much. The community really did make it work. A huge, huge thank you to everybody.”

The Sharing Tree receieved $3,007 in donations, said firefighter Jared Richey.

The program also received donations of blankets, handmade stocking caps and fleece scarves.

The cash was used to cover supplies, such as wrapping paper, labels and tags, and to purchase toys.

The number of families served this year was about average, Strubhar said. “We were expecting more people to sign up because of the way things are (the economy).”

The Sharing Tree serves children up to 12 years old, said Diane Shank, administrative assistant at SHFAD. The program generally targets lower-income families.

Children’s names are written on tags affixed to the Sharing Tree. Members of the public take a tag off the tree and buy presents for the child named on the tag. Families visited the Fire Hall Wednesday through Friday to pick up their boxes.

“Every year, we are just amazed at how the community pulls through and makes it happen,” Strubhar said. “It’s not a program we could pull off by ourselves by any means.”

Among groups helping out were students from the Sweet Home Junior High School, the Sweet Home High School basketball team, the Rhinestone Riders 4-H Club, Boy Scout Pack 363, the SHHS leadership class and firefighters’ wives.

The groups helped shop, wrap gifts and set up boxes for pickup, Strubhar said. “It’s nice to see some of the different youth groups come in and volunteer to different things like that.”

The efforts are not forgotten by many recipients either.

Probably one of the most rewarding things to see is when a family that was on the Sharing Tree come in and tell organizers they were recipients and now they’re taking names off the tree to go shopping, Strubhar said.

“I think there’s a lot of kids in our community who wouldn’t get to have Christmas without this program,” Strubhar said.

“I have good memories of Christmas when I was a kid,” Cassie Richey said. Her goal has been to make sure children today do too.