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Giving Tree at LifeHouse

LifeHouse debuted its giving tree for this holiday season recently. The tree allows individuals to purchase presents for families' wish lists for Christmas Day.

Oftentimes, people come to LifeHouse empty-handed, lead shelter staff Leslie Chamberlain said.

“A lot of people come in simply with the clothes on their backs, and they have nothing else,” she said. “Or for a variety of reasons, they don’t have an income, so they want to provide something for their children, like a family that comes here.”

As part of the holiday season, LifeHouse will give the Christmas spirit to its members through its annual “giving tree,” which is set up in the shelter at 723 N. Broad St., in Fremont.

The giving tree allows individuals from the public to buy gifts for families in need for Christmas Day in order to show their importance, Chamberlain said.

Chamberlain said the process starts with Jessica Timm, director of housing and case management, and other case managers visiting families to see what they would like for Christmas.

After writing down the families’ wish lists, the case managers then staple the wish lists to an ornament on the tree, Chamberlain said.

“Let’s say dad wants shirts and mom want socks and kiddos want some toys,” she said. “Anyone from the public can come pick up one or two or as many ornaments as they want, go out and get what’s on the list, and then bring it back to the shelter with the gift tags unwrapped.”

Chamberlain said the items typically vary from family to family.

“Usually some clients might need tennis shoes or work boots, T-shirts, undergarments, any toys for children,” she said. “The children get pretty specific with a specific toy or some kiddos have asked for bikes.”

After an individual buys a present, it is then stored in LifeHouse’s resource room.

“The case managers are the ones who tag it and wrap it for the family,” Chamberlain said. “And then Christmas Eve, we have a staff member who puts them outside the room doors, so the families have a Christmas gift on Christmas morning.”

Although LifeHouse first posted about the tree on Facebook last Wednesday, the donation process has been very popular with people in the Fremont community in years past, Chamberlain said.

Chamberlain said the giving tree is also a great way to show people that the LifeHouse program is much more than just a homeless shelter.

“We build people up from rock bottom and then get them successfully housed,” she said. “And it’s important that every client that comes in the door, is they need to feel needed, wanted and loved.”

For many, it’s tough for many people to be in a shelter during the holidays, Chamberlain said.

“Everyone that comes in the door, they come under survival mode or defense mode, and they just want to be cared for,” she said. “And by having the giving tree, it acknowledges them and that their needs and wants are going to be met for the holidays.”

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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