For those on the giving and receiving ends, a generous spirit can warm the hearts of young and old alike. The Treasures for Children holiday donation drive proves that, as everyone from grade school students to grandparents get to be a part of the program.
Sponsored by the Indiana County Salvation Army and The Indiana Gazette, Treasures for Children aims to ensure that all in the county have gifts on Christmas morning.
“It’s truly a community effort,” said Linda Donnelly, a coordinator of Treasures for Children and wife of Gazette publisher Michael Donnelly.
“They want one day of the year to be special for that kid.”
Donations are accepted for all ages, from infants to special needs adults to seniors.
Last year, according to Donnelly, nearly 1,200 individuals in need throughout Indiana County received gifts through the program.
Those giving the gifts often involve their children and other family members in selecting items to be donated. Some have made Treasures for Children a holiday tradition.
“I’ve had a couple of families tell me they don’t exchange presents any more, they pick tags off a tree,” Donnelly said.
Taking part in the program is as simple as selecting a tag from a Treasures for Children tree. There are more than 40 trees this year at businesses and other locations around the county.
Tags include the recipient’s first name, age and gender, as well as shirt, pants and shoe sizes. A list of several items the individual would like for Christmas is also found on the tags.
Requests can range from toys for young children, clothing and video games for teens and, for adults and seniors, clothing and toiletry items.
Though not necessarily listed on a tag, some even donate a perennial favorite — bicycles. Not only is a bike something a child would love to see under the Christmas tree, Donnelly said such a gift is one that can also be practical.
“That may be the only way a kid can baby sit or go to a part-time job — or have some old fashioned fun,” she said. “We all relate to bikes.”
If you’re in a holiday hurry, and don’t have time to select a tag, organizers said certain individual items are also accepted.
“We thought it up when some people said they didn’t have the time, energy or money, so we give them suggestions of things, if they want to buy them,” Donnelly said. “If you want to still help, you can pick up one of these items.”
Requested items include full bottles of lotion, which seniors find valuable; makeup and nail polish sets and for boys, hunting-related items and anything with the Duck Dynasty brand.
Craft items, Donnelly said, can be a hit with many children. Treasures organizers are requesting in particular the popular Rainbow Loom kits — and replacement rubber bands — that are used to make bracelets, rings and other items.
“Boys and girls like them because they can make them and give them as gifts,” she said.
Among other requested items are Monster High dolls the Leapster electronic learning game.
And that’s not the only way to give through Treasures for Children this holiday season.
Other initiatives that fall under the Treasures umbrella include the Adopt-a-Family program and the Stop the Cold initiative.
Monetary donations are also accepted.
• Adopt-a-Family — Many times, more than just a single child can benefit from the generosity of Treasures for Children. Their siblings and parents are likely in need, too.
Through the Adopt-a-Family program, groups of coworkers, church members or even just friends can team up to purchase presents for an entire family. Oftentimes, organizers said, those giving select small and practical gifts for the parents, and toys and clothing for their children.
• Stop the Cold — ’Tis the season not only for buying presents, but for bundling up. Keeping that in mind, The Salvation Army started the Stop the Cold initiative a number of years ago to collect hats, gloves, mittens and boots for those in need. Children’s books are also accepted.
The items are given out with Treasures for Children gifts.
• Monetary donations — If it’s hard to make time during the hustle and bustle of the holidays, giving a monetary donation is a quick and easy way to contribute to Treasures for Children.
All money donated goes to buying gifts, according to organizers.
“If you hold this program [in] your heart, like many of us do, please send donations,” Donnelly said. “We will find shoppers to take care of the requests.”
Checks should be made out to The Salvation Army Treasures for Children Program and sent to or dropped off at 635 Water St., Indiana, PA 15701.
Donations for all programs should be returned to tree locations by Dec. 7. Monetary donations should be sent by Dec. 7, as well.
Questions? Contact Treasures for Children coordinator Linda Donnelly of the Gazette at (724) 388-3841, The Salvation Army at (724) 465-2530 or the Gazette office at (724) 465-5555.
Inquiries can also be sent by email to indiSArmyTreasures@indianagazette.net.
Families in need of assistance with gifts this year and are interested in participating in Treasures for Children should call The Salvation Army at (724) 465-2530 as soon as possible.
These businesses and organizations are tree locations for the Treasures for Children program:
Medi Home Health Care, 42 W. Market St.
Hopewell United Methodist Church, 2593 Thompson Road
S&T Bank, Resort Plaza Walmart, 300 Resort Plaza
Marion Center Bank, 750 Franklin St.
Arone’s Auto, 136 W. Elm St.
First Commonwealth Bank, 2254 Route 119
S&T Bank, 34 N. Main St.
Environmental Laboratories, 1803 Philadelphia St.
First Commonwealth Bank, Sixth and Philadelphia streets
First Commonwealth Bank, West End, 1164 Philadelphia St.
Grace United Methodist Church, Seventh and Church streets
Indiana First Savings Bank, 935 Philadelphia St.
Indiana Gazette, 899 Water St.
Indiana Area Junior High School, 425 N. Fifth St.
IUP Department of Service Learning, Pratt Hall, Suite 302
S&T Bank, main branch, 800 Philadelphia St.
S&T Bank, Fourth Street branch, Fourth and Chestnut streets
St. Thomas Moore Parish, 1200 Oakland Ave.
Uptown Fitness, 655 Church St., basement
Marion Center Bank, 501 Main St.
New Life Lutheran Church, 284 Birch Lane
Saltsburg Elementary School, 250 Third St.
Saltsburg High School, Route 286
S&T Bank, 602 Salt St.
Reliant Energy (Keystone Generating), 313 Keystone Lane
Bon-Ton, 2334 Oakland Ave.
Environmental Land Surveying and Solutions Inc., 280 Indian Springs Road
First Commonwealth Bank, Regency Mall, 1540 Oakland Ave.
First Commonwealth Bank, Southtowne, 2250 Route 286 South
First Summit Bank, 1825 Oakland Ave.
Indiana First Savings Bank, 475 Ben Franklin Road.
Indiana Area Senior High School, 450 N. Fifth St.
Indiana Regional Medical Center, Hospital Road
Kmart, Indiana Mall
Lowe’s, 475 Ben Franklin Road South
Marion Center Bank, 1271 Indian Springs Road
PSECU, Route 422 West Plaza
Sears, Indiana Mall
S&T Bank, Indian Springs Branch, 2455 Route 286 West
St. Bernard of Clairvaux Church, 30 Clairvaux Drive
Summit Church, 2707 West Pike
Walmart, Southtowne Plaza
YMCA, Ben Franklin Road