Sharing Tree returns as holidays near

It’s the time of year when the citizens of Sweet Home come together to help less fortunate local children and families for the upcoming holiday season, Fire Chief Mike Beaver said.

As in past years, Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District will conduct the “Christmas for Kids Sharing Tree” and Sweet Home Emergency Ministries (SHEM) will coordinate the “Christmas Food Basket Program.”

Persons or families needing assistance for food or those who wish to have a child’s name placed on the Sharing Tree need to fill out a request form, which can be picked up at the Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District office at 1099 Long Street beginning Oct. 24.

The forms for food will be forwarded to SHEM, which will prepare food baskets for delivery in time for Christmas dinner.

Those wishing to make cash donations for food baskets may do so at the SHEM food bank, 4101-A, Santiam Hwy., Sweet Home, OR 97386. A donation of nonperishable food and clothing is also welcome.

Cash donations for the Sharing Tree toy program may be made at the Fire and Ambulance District office. Cash donations will be used to purchase toys and needed clothing for local children.

The names of children and families needing assistance will be placed on the Sharing Tree at the fire department during the second week of November. There will be another tree placed at the high school Christmas Bazaar following the Christmas Parade on Dec. 3 for that day only.

In 2004, the Sharing Tree helped more than 500 children and 190 families with a need for toys, clothing or food. This year, organizers anticipate an equal or larger need in the community.

Anyone wanting to help with the Sharing Tree toy program is asked to go the fire department and choose a nametag from the tree and then buy that child a gift, wrap it and return it to the Sharing Tree by Dec. 9.

The names that are left on the sharing tree will be taken by firefighters, who will purchase gifts to fill these requests. This year, as in the past, those requesting gifts will be asked to pick them up at the fire department Dec. 14-16 after being contacted by phone.

There are an increasing number of generous people in our community who have requested to not only provide gifts for children but for a whole family. Persons who would like the option of “adopting a family” this Christmas should contact the fire department office, 367-5882.

“These two great community programs continue to provide a glimmer of hope at the holiday season for hundreds of less fortunate children and families in Sweet Home,” Beaver said. “Without the unselfish support of the citizens of Sweet Home, that glimmer of hope would be a little dimmer. Please support the Christmas for Kids Sharing Tree and Sweet Home Emergency Ministries. The gift of giving is priceless. Thank you for your continued support of these two great community programs. Happy Holidays.”