Editor’s note: This post has been updated with current dates and times.
- What: The Giving Tree
- Where: Columbia Mall
- When: Nov. 25-Dec. 10
- Website: comoadoption.com
There’s nothing more magical than waking up on Christmas morning and scurrying to the tree to see your name on a present from Santa Claus. To make this a reality for all children no matter what their family might look like, the Columbia Foster and AdoptionProject in coordination with KVC Missouri,Cornerstones of Care, Missouri Alliance for Children and Families, and Boone and Callaway Counties Children’s Division, organize The Giving Tree every year.
This project not only embodies the essence of the season but also symbolizes the deep sense of community and compassion that thrives in Columbia.The Giving Tree provides Christmas gifts for children in foster care in Boone and Callaway counties. Kathryn O’Hagan, president of the board, says every holiday season the Columbia Foster and Adoption Project works with foster parents to get lists of holiday wishes from each child.
Last year alone, they served about 330 children who received holiday gifts from The Giving Tree, which were provided by nearly 300 people who donated gifts and money. Cindy Garrett, chair of The GivingTree, believes they might serve even more kids this year, as there were more than 400 in out-of-home care in Boone and Callaway counties at the end of July. But Garrett says some of those children may be with relatives who decline additional assistance or are being served by other agencies.
Board member Carrie Beucke says fulfilling the kids’ holiday lists helps each child feel more involved and accepted, both at school and in their family lives.”High-dollar items that kids/teens are asking for help the youth feel included in peer groups and give them access to something that their peers have access to,” Beucke says.
The Giving Tree program is not just a holiday tradition but a symbol of the community’s unwavering commitment to compassion and togetherness. Board member Erin Strong says it’s incredible to see how much Columbia cares each year.”It’s so amazing to see how generous the community is,” Strong says.
The goal is for kids in foster care to have the same Christmas as other children”because they are often in a foster home and don’t have any of their own items,” Garrett says.
Residents can go online or visit The Giving Tree at the Columbia Mall, where they can find a wish list to sponsor and shop for presents. Gifts must be returned between Nov. 25-Dec. 10 to the Columbia Foster and Adoption project.
So, grab your big red bag and holiday spirit and prepare to give back this season. The Giving Tree program proves that the roots of compassion run deep making the city’s holiday season merrier, one ornament at a time.