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Salvation Army’s Tree of Giving highlights Christmas spirit at college

BY JESSE THOMPSON

“There is nothing like Christmas morning for a kid.”

You may have noticed the Trees of Giving around the Chemeketa campus this past month.

The trees are put there by Salvation Army workers as a part of their Toy and Joy Christmas Project. The trees are for gift donations, as explained on the green and red cards that hang from the branches.

“It’s a good idea to learn to pay it forward,” Yesica Navarro, the administrative assistant for the Student Retention and College Life Department, said.

“What better way to become a leader than giving back to your community?”

On the cards – green for boys and red for girls – you will find a list of gift ideas based on age.

The gifts that are donated are taken unwrapped to the college’s Student Life Department. From there, Salvation Army workers pick up the gifts and take them to a distribution center so that they can be organized by age and gender.

Meghan Gallop, the marketing manager for Chemeketa’s Marketing and Student Recruitment Department, has volunteered her time at these same distribution centers before.

“It’s always nice to give back,” Gallop said. “I was always interested in helping children.”

Gallop said that the Salvation Army holds an event where parents of families in need who go through an application process receive a voucher.

With the voucher, they are able to pick out a gift for their children for Christmas day.

According to the Salvation Army website, through the Toy and Joy project, the Salvation Army is looking to provide more than 1,000 local families with gifts as well as food baskets.

This isn’t the first year that Chemeketa has hosted the Tree of Giving.

Navarro, who has worked at Chemeketa for 14 years, said that Chemeketa has had the Trees of Giving almost every year since she has been here. She said they used to be called the Angel Tree.

Gallop, who previously volunteered for one year at the Salva- tion Army’s distribution center, also is donating a present this year.

“There is nothing like a Christmas morning for a kid,” she said. “And to think I’m playing a part in making someone’s Christmas more memorable makes me feel good.”

The Toy and Joy Christmas Project and the Tree of Giving provide an opportunity for those who want to help a child at Christmas.

“Don’t look at it as if you are giving someone a handout,” Navarro said, “but more like you are giving someone a hand up.” Four Trees of Giving are located throughout Chemeketa.

Donations will be accepted until the end of finals week.

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