Tree celebrates spirit of giving

photo courtesy of USI photo services

As the leaves of fall disappear along with the spooky and haunting atmosphere of all Hallows Eve, students are greeted with the frosty air of the season of giving. With Christmas right around the corner, it’s important to think about the meaning of these holidays.

Every year, USI’s Staff Council reminds the university community of the spirit of giving. Since 2001, the Council has been putting on the event known as The Giving Tree.

The Giving Tree is designed to help less-fortunate families within the USI community, making Christmas a memorable occasion for their children. In October, university staff, students, and members of the USI community can submit an application to receive aid from the program. Once approved, applicants can specify what gifts would be the most beneficial, ranging from clothing items, toys and gift cards.

On campus, there will be eight tree locations, upon which there will be paper ornaments that anybody can collect. On the ornaments, stickers will depict an item that has been requested by one of the families in need. Whoever collects the ornament will then go out and purchase that item and return it to any of the tree locations.

“Since its start in 2001, the Giving Tree has aided over 320 families, totaling in the aid of 900 children,” said Heather Odom, vice chair of the employee relations committee for the Staff Council.

For 16 years the Staff Council has given an opportunity for children within our community to have a good Christmas and it all starts with giving.

“All year long we witness the USI community being outstanding, and this time of year we get to see this become fact through everyone’s actions during the Giving Tree event. It’s completely anonymous and it’s great to see others help benefit people within their own community,” said Shelby Jackson, chair of the employee relations committee for Staff Council.

All over campus, there are eight locations for opportunities to give back during a time of generosity and giving.  Dec. 8 is the last day to drop off items for the Giving Tree.

“We put all of the gifts in a big red sack that is very similar to the one we know Santa Claus would carry. It’s such a joy seeing all of the families so overwhelmed and happy when they see the bag full of the aid they are about to receive,” Odom said.