Putting Leaves on the Giving Tree

December 26, 2013

By: Rabbi Shari Shamah, JCC Jewish Family Specialist 

Three year old Sam had three wishes this holiday season.  He hoped for V-tech switch and Go Dinos, Legos or Fisher Price Imaginext. 

Last Tuesday, (December 10th) this community helped make Sam’s holiday wishes come true through the JCC and Youth Humanitarian Project.  For the third year in a row the JCC has participated in the Volunteer Center’s Giving Tree Program.  We requested tags representing children at two different non-profit agencies in Milwaukee (Child Development Center of St. Joseph & Council for the Spanish Speaking, Head Start-Jo’s) and asked our children and families to help fulfill the wishes.  The first year our community participated we filled 10 tags.  Last year we filled 20 tags and this year we requested 30 tags.  Our Jewish community loves to find ways to help the greater community, and astoundingly, within hours after sending out an email asking for volunteers the tags were all claimed. 

Families were each given a tag that listed the child’s first name, age, clothing size and their top three holiday gift wishes.  The amount to spend per child was between $15 - $25.  They were told to have their gifts in gift bags and return them to the JCC by December 10th so that representatives from the two agencies could be here to receive them.  Seeing the bags of gifts lined up by the West Desk was incredible.  Hearing that for many of the recipient children this single bag of gifts was the only present they would be receiving for Christmas was even more touching.  Knowing that many of the children who donated used some of their personal money to make wishes come true was heart-warming.  And the pride that we as a JCC community can feel about giving back to our community is overwhelming. 

Don’t worry if you didn’t get a chance to give a gift this year… I’ve been told to double or even triple the number of tags we request next year!

Looking for additional volunteer opportunities for children and families?  Email or call me at 414-967-8229 so that the Youth Humanitarian Project can connect you.