The Giving Tree encourages giving back for the holiday season

Dora Kreitzer, Staff Writer

The University’s annual Giving Tree project has returned to campus, allowing students and staff to purchase gifts for local families in need. This year the project was facilitated by the Alpha Lambda Delta (ALD) honor society.

“The Giving Tree Project is an opportunity to participate in giving back to the local Union County community and helping those in need during this holiday season.” The purpose of this project is to provide several local agencies with needed gifts, such as toys, clothing, and more.” ALD Community Service Chairs Peyton Yater ’24 and Sydney Santo ’24, as well as ALD President Paul Danenberg ’23 said.

This year, a total of 15 organizations participated and requested over 250 gifts. The organizations included senior living centers, daycare centers, mental health facilities and an adoption agency. 

The complete list includes: Buffalo Valley Lutheran, Rolling Hills Manor, Riverwoods, Danville State Hospital, Celebration Villa of Lewisburg, Milton Development Services, Inc., Essex Place, Haven Ministry, Inc., Milton YMCA Daycare, Children’s Choice, GSV YMCA, CMSU, Union County Children and Youth, and CONCERN. 

“I participated mostly because I wanted to give back to the Lewisburg community. As a sophomore I haven’t had a lot of chances to interact with the people of Lewisburg and the surrounding area because of COVID, and this seemed like a great opportunity to help the community!” Shannon Granelli ’24 said.

With the project starting Nov. 2, students and staff could participate by picking up a tag on the tree in the Bertrand Library Lobby, purchasing a gift of their choice for the person and the desired item listed on the tag and dropping it off at the gift boxes next to the tree by Dec. 1. 

“The tag I picked out asked for a Walmart gift card, so after classes one day I went over and purchased one. I also got a cute little card for it. It was a really straightforward process, and it was fantastic that I was able to help out someone for the holidays through less than 30 minutes of my time” Granelli said. 

The Giving Tree Project has been an annual University holiday tradition for over 15 years, except for last year as a result of the pandemic. Although it was previously organized by the Office of Civic Engagement, this year ALD decided to take over. 

“ALD thought it would be a great idea to start the program back up again this year. The Office of Civic Engagement helped us through the process and provided us with guidance and support. Lynn Pierson [the Associate Director of the Office of Civic Engagement] explained to us how the Giving Tree Project was previously organized,” Yater, Santo and Danenberg said

After meeting with Pierson, the organizing team contacted agencies and organized logistics, including location, materials and marketing. 

“We also had to come up with a marketing plan to ensure everyone on campus was aware of this project. We marketed this project by sending out a faculty wide email, displaying it on the message center, and sending out an email to previous participants. We also sent out an email to all first-year students,” Yater, Santo and Danenberg said. They also incentivized participation for ALD members, who could earn a point for donating. 

Yater, Santon and Danenberg hope that “students can learn the importance of giving back to the surrounding community” from participating in the Giving Tree project. 

“The people of Lewisburg (and the surrounding area) are kind enough to share this community with us for about nine months out of the year. The least we can do is give back, and potentially make an impact for someone who could really use it,” Granelli said. 

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