October 18, 2015

One of my favorite weekends of the year is the one where everyone brings in their Giving Tree gifts.  I love seeing all of the beautifully-wrapped boxes around the altar.  The kids are so proud when they put their family’s presents on the steps, and there’s always at least one oddly-shaped package that gets me wondering.

Giving Tree is a long-standing St. Raymond tradition where we collect Christmas gifts for those who might not have much under their tree.  We work with local social services agencies to generate lists of recipients.

The weekends before and after Thanksgiving, parishioners are invited to select a tag from  the table after all Masses.  Some labor over which tag they choose.  Others just pluck one from the basket and know it’s right.  For many families, this is a great   teachable  moment with their children.

We have 6-8 organization who we work with each year—and for some of them, we are the only help they receive at Christmas.  When I talked to Vicki Martell who has run this for the last several years, she referred to all of the program directors by first name.  “Sister will have about 75 requests.  Karen needs diapers” and so on.  You can feel that Vicki has a very personal connection to the people and organizations we are serving.

And it shows!  This is a well-oiled machine.  We get more than 500 gifts in, sorted and out to the organizations in a three-day period.  It’s pretty intense, but as Vicki pointed out, the time commitment has a clear start and end.

I share that because Vicki has asked to step-away from Giving Tree this year, and we are looking for a few folks to step up to lead it.  There is a very clear    blueprint of what to do, and Vicki is eager to share her knowledge with the good-hearted souls who step in.

This would be a great project for a couple of pals to do together.  Sisters? A couple? The Bunco group? Even an extended family would be great.  If you have been looking for ways to serve, this might be a great fit for you.  Please consider it…and ask a friend.

Vicki is doing the initial reach out to the organizations to get the wheels in motion, so now we really need people to coordinate the tag pick up and of course, to manage the collection, sorting and distribution process.  The lion’s share of the work will be done on December 5-7. 

If you are interested in helping, please send me an email or give me a call this week.  We do want to    expand our outreach a bit (we used to do about 800 gifts but scaled back during the economic troubles). We are hoping the leadership can be in place soon to make that happen.

We are so happy that Fr. Brad is getting a lot of use out of his birthday present from the parish staff. Here’s hoping we’ll be Flying the W  over the rectory at least 8 more times this October.  Go Cubs Go!

Have a great week.  See you at Donut Day next Sunday!

Eileen Hooks Gutierrez
815-722-6653, extension 242 




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