Generosity shines brightly for Sharing Tree


The gift of giving, thinking of your fellow man and some pretty big hearts made the holiday brighter for many senior or disabled residents on the Sharing Tree.
Aging Services for Communities (ASC), the organization that took on the Sharing Tree this year, reported that 130 local individuals received gifts from the project. 
Karen Hiscox, an ASC employee, helped coordinate the project where people simply take a tag off the tree designated for a senior or disabled person, purchase the desired Christmas gift, (for many, the recipient’s only one), and return it to Aging Services. 
Hiscox said the community’s giving response to the tree this year was fantastic with no ornaments being left on the tree by the deadline.
“I’m excited. It went really well,” she said. “In fact, we could have used more cards (people’s names).”
The marriage of the Sharing Tree with ASC was perfect, said ASC Director Shelly Barnett. ASC is an organization that assists older adults and disabled persons to remain in their own homes with the help of respite care to homemaker services. Bringing the two together helped the tree, as well as ASC.
“A lot of people came in who didn’t know we were here,” Barnett said. “It worked for us too.”
The biggest challenge with the Sharing Tree, Hiscox and Barnett agreed, was getting the names of senior citizens and/or disabled adults who don’t have a lot of family. Hiscox said they received local names from Montgomery, and Traditions of Montgomery, The Harbor, Golden Years, ASC, Central Health Care in Le Center, Sunrise Farms, Park Manor and Mala Strana Health Care. 
The “ornaments” on the tree consisted of the fronts of used Christmas cards that people had donated. Hiscox said the new method of recycling the cards worked well  because, “They were nice, pretty and reusable,” she said.
Hiscox added that putting a dollar amount range of $5 to $20 for the gifts really  opened up the program for more people. 
“This way people could do what they wanted,” Hiscox said. “If they wanted to give more, they could.”
Hiscox said they also received $275 in donations that will be used for an upgraded tree and future Sharing Tree gifts that need to be purchased.
Ace Hardware in Montgomery also donated a small tree that lead to another  great idea that helped the project. Hiscox said that tree was setup next door at the Happy Hour Bar. She said owner Eileen Segna wanted to help with the program, and the smaller tree made it possible for people to take ornaments outside of ASC business hours.
“That went really well. The tree fit in her window. It couldn’t have been better,” Hiscox said.
Got used Christmas cards?
Aging Services for Communities, the organizer of the Sharing Tree, is looking for used Christmas cards for future Sharing Trees. The inside front of the card must be blank. 
Drop off cards at Aging Services at 212 First Street South during business hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.