The Giving Tree idea was suggested during a board meeting. The following day a county-wide email went out requesting assistance for Christmas gifts due to their annual fundraiser being cancelled, and a perfect match was made. The Giving Tree was located at the city of Hurley office on 5th St., which also served as a gift drop-off location as well as at Iron County Human Services (ICHS).
Recipients were chosen primarily through Dianne Schmitke with ICHS through the Community Cares program that seek out Iron County families in need with minor children. Kelly Traczyk, NICER committee chair, additionally reached out to Hurley High School administrators and DOVE, the local domestic violence shelter. All of the identities of the children were held strictly confidential through the partnering agencies with the only identifiers being their gender, age, and wish list.
Knowing 2020 had been challenging for everyone it was difficult to anticipate the response, however the giving spirit is alive and well in Iron County. There were forty-six families included in the program with twice as many children totaling 213 gift tags fulfilled. NICER was able to provide bathroom essential baskets to all 46 families as well. The baskets included shampoo & conditioner, body wash, toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, deodorant, gum, and hot chocolate, with the gender and age specific bags including a bath bomb, razor, shaving cream, tampons, pads and donated “man stuff” for young male adults.
This year’s giving tree was a testament to the collective sense of community and kindness running through our small towns. Almost every single gift tag was collected and returned on time, with very few being purchased by the partnering agencies. The response was so overwhelmingly positive we actually struggled to keep gift tags on the tree the first few weekends. Many tears of joy were shed and smiles delivered just in time for the holidays. We live among amazing people and many involved mentioned having a renewed faith in humanity and Christmas spirit.