There’s more than one way to help the Treasures for Children program make somebody’s holiday wishes come true this year, according to program coordinator Linda Donnelly.
A tradition for nearly 30 years, Treasures for Children collects gifts for those through Indiana County who are facing financial hardship. The program’s Treasure trees can be found everywhere from Blairsville to White Township.
The program is sponsored by The Indiana Gazette and The Salvation Army.
This year, Treasures for Children trees can be found at more than 40 locations. Tags with the names of children, senior citizens and special needs adults hang from the trees. Gifts are dropped off at the same tree locations.
More gifts are needed than in previous years, according to Donnelly, wife of Gazette publisher Michael Donnelly.
Last year, 1,200 received gifts through the program.
This year’s early estimates indicated that at least 300 more tags were placed on the trees than last, with more tags going out on trees — some, as recently as Thursday.
To participate in the program by sponsoring an individual, all you have to do is select a tag, buy presents for the recipient and drop the items off under a Christmas tree at a participating location.
Donated gifts must be unwrapped with a tag or label showing they are for the Treasures for Children program.
Any help goes a long way, especially for families signing on late for the program.
According to Donnelly, as the holidays approach, some parents may find that they don’t have the resources to buy gifts for their children. Oftentimes, it’s due to circumstances beyond their control.
“I think that people have the intention,” she said. “They think they’re going to have money saved for Christmas and for their kids, and when they get laid off, or lose their jobs or have a catastrophe, then they don’t have the money.”
“So, like any parent would do, they try to find help for their children.”
The deadline for dropping off donations at Treasures for Children trees is now Monday.
If you want to help this year but don’t have time to add additional Christmas shopping to the list, Donnelly stresses that there are several other ways to make a difference.
• Volunteer: With more than 40 trees throughout the county, many volunteers are needed to help collect all the presents being donated.
Volunteers can drive themselves — especially if they have a large vehicle that can carry a veritable sleigh-full of gifts.
And if someone doesn’t have transportation, they can still help with pickup. They’ll be paired with a person who does have wheels. The two (or more) volunteers will work together as a team.
Pickup begins at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Gazette office at 899 Water St.
If you’d like to volunteer, contact Donnelly at (724) 388-3841. She asks that anyone who’d like to participate on pickup day call her ahead of time.
• Select most-requested gifts: Sometimes, a person wants to help but may not have the time to select a tag and shop for an individual recipient.
That’s a perfect opportunity to buy one or more of the most requested or most needed gifts.
Items can be dropped off just like any other presents, at a Treasures for Children tree location, unwrapped and marked with a tag designating that it is for the program.
This year, the most-requested items include: makeup and nail polish sets, hunting-related items, Duck Dynasty merchandise, Rainbow Loom kits and replacement rubber bands, Monster High dolls, Leapster electronic learning games and full-sized bottles of lotion.
The deadline for these donations is Monday.
• Donate: For those who don’t have the time to shop — or even select a tag — giving a monetary donation is an easy way to help get gifts for those in need.
Treasures for Children uses all of its funding to buy Christmas presents, Donnelly said.
“For 29 years, it has all been funded completely by the donations of our community. Our community always comes through,” she said. “So that is quite a record.”
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 by Monday.
• And don’t forget … Donnelly reminds those who’ve taken a tag from a Treasures tree but don’t have the time or the resources to fulfill the request that it’s not too late to return the tag.
That way, if someone else wants to get involved they can select the tag. And if not, those in the program will even be able to help those Christmas wishes come true.
If you return a tag, “it’s no big deal,” Donnelly said. “Just drop it off at one of the trees. We have volunteers ready to shop for gifts.”
Questions? Contact Donnelly at (724) 388-3841, The Salvation Army at (724) 465-2530 or the Gazette office at (724) 465-5555.
Inquiries can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Families in need of assistance are encouraged to contact The Salvation Army at (724) 465-2530 as soon as possible.
The Salvation Army Treasures for Children is sponsored by the Gazette and runs with no administrative costs.