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Boca Raton News


Date ArticleType
12/18/2020 General


With creative determination, volunteers from The Giving Tree of Temple Beth El of Boca Raton have found new “Covid-Appropriate” ways to meet the challenges of bringing Christmas cheer to hundreds of Boca Raton families. Instead of the massive warehouse the volunteers usually have as their Holiday Workshop to sort and wrap presents, this year several volunteers have offered their homes, which are now stuffed with presents to be checked, wrapped and readied for delivery before Christmas.

The Giving Tree is a social justice initiative that began thirty years ago when Myra Singer, wife of Rabbi Merle E. Singer, started a synagogue project to have volunteers buy presents for twenty families in need. At the heart of the program is Myra’s intention that each child should receive gifts they want, not just generic items. To do that, all of the children are asked to create a wish list, and presents are bought accordingly.

“Often a whole family will volunteer to go shopping to buy presents for the children in a Giving Tree family,” says co-chair Judy Gordon. “And some of those kids who grew up shopping with their parents are now bringing their own children in as volunteers with us. It’s just a wonderful project.”

Year after year, the demands increase and somehow, The Giving Tree finds a way to say yes, they can help.

“It makes the holiday season special in a way that I can’t describe,” says Leslie Steinberg, a long-time volunteer and lead organizer. “Times are especially tough this year with the virus and we couldn’t bear the thought of not coming through with the magic of Christmas, so we figured out how to do this with more shopping on line, new drop off procedures, and using our homes as warehouse space to stay socially distanced.”

Over the thirty years of Giving Tree history, the volunteer contingent has grown with the order and efficiency of a honey bee colony.  Size, color, brand and type of gift are all highly important in the gift buying. Every dollar donated goes to buying presents. There is no staff, no overhead, just a genuine desire to help.

“There are times when a request is beyond our budget, but the whole idea is to make the children happy to see something they really want and maybe could never get before,” says Myra Singer. “We also have children who want nothing more than a decent pair of sneakers so they can play a sport at school.”

Today, The Giving Tree program operates year round, and provides support for children in a number of organizations including the Youth Activity Center, Wayne Barton Study Center, Best Foot Forward, Dixie Manor, Jewish Family Services, and many more.

Even with the pandemic turning the world upside down this year, The Giving Tree is blooming. Linda Berger surveys the piles of presents stacked in every inch of space in her home and throws her arms wide. “What could be a better gift to ourselves than bringing joy to a child during the holidays?”

For more information please view this video about The Giving Tree by clicking here.

To donate toThe Giving Tree, visit https://thegivingtreeboca.org/ and you can make a child’s wish come true.