Giving Tree lights up the holidays

Catholic Campus Ministry’s community service chair, Susan Zabrocky, is in charge of coordinating all community events, like The Giving Tree. Students are invited to take ornaments off the tree and get a gift for the child named.By Adrienne Stazzone

With Thanksgiving recently celebrated and Christmas quickly approaching, many students find themselves reflecting on all they have to be grateful for.

The spirit of giving is undoubtedly in full swing at this special time of the year. Rider’s Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM) is putting this theory into practice with its institution of The Giving Tree.

The Giving Tree, as its name implies, is a traditional Christmas tree decorated with “tag” ornaments. Students are invited to pick an ornament from the tree and get a gift for a child.

“The Giving Tree represents a toy drive we do to collect toys for the children at Mill Hill [Child and Family Development Corporation],” said Susan Zabrocky, community service chair of CCM. “The trees are decorated with ornaments with each child’s name, age and sex, and the idea is to pick an ornament and purchase and wrap a toy for that child.”

There are three trees displayed on Rider’s campuses: in the Bart Luedeke Center and Gill Chapel in Lawrenceville and in the Student Center on the Westminster campus.

While the process seems relatively simple on paper, the act of charity has lasting effects for all involved.

“This is a great opportunity to help those who are not as fortunate as we are,” said Father Ian Trammell, CCM chaplain.

The Giving Tree has proven to be a successful endeavor, as people quickly took advantage of the chance to help those in need.

“Tags have been taken very quickly,” Trammell said. “They disappeared within days of being placed on The Giving Tree.”

The donated gifts, including the appropriate tag, should be dropped off at Gill Chapel on Saturday, Dec. 6. Within the days that follow, CCM will organize the presents and transport them to the needy children.

To all students who may think the chance to participate in The Giving Tree has passed, Zabrocky said that this is not the case and encouraged everyone to come out and lend a hand.

“Anyone can participate, whether it be with purchasing a gift for a child or helping with the toy sorting before we deliver the gifts to Mill Hill,” she said. “All are welcome to help out.”

The donated presents will be arranged in the Gill Chapel basement on Sunday, Dec. 7, at noon.

For everyone involved with The Giving Tree, the project has served as a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas, including service to those who are not able to enjoy the privileges often taken for granted in today’s world.

“It is a chance to express in a concrete way that we believe all other people are our brothers and sisters,” Trammell said. “We joyfully express our solidarity with them, especially as we anticipate the celebration of Christ’s birth, which reminds us that God loves all of us individually and as the human family.”

The Giving Tree gifts are given to the children of the Mill Hill Child and Family Development Center in Trenton. Mill Hill is a child care facility for children 2 months to 5 years old.

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