|11/22/2013 2:00:00 PM|
Byron's sharing trees return for those in need
By David Richards
It happened a long time ago, but Michelle McGowan remembers it well. She remembers the Christmas she needed help with food and gifts for her son and that she turned to Christmas Anonymous in Rochester.
That help came, and McGowan herself is now giving back.
"It feels fabulous," she said about helping others. "Because I was on the other end that year."
McGowan is playing a key role in this year's "sharing tree" effort, an annual joint undertaking between The Byron Women of Today, in which McGowan is web master, and Christ the King Catholic Church.
For years, the two organizations have been working with staff at Byron's food shelf to provide gifts to families in need for the holiday season.
Through the food shelf, The Byron Women of Today and the church collect names of local families, along with their gift ideas, four each per family member. The two organizations then split the names and make paper ornaments and put them on two different trees.
The Byron Women of Today's tree will be available to the public starting Nov. 30 at First Security Bank, while McGowan said the Christ the King tree is likely to be up sometime this week as well.
"All of the families are local, and they have to live in the Byron School District," McGowan said.
This year, 14 families have asked for help, with the name of one person and their gift idea on each ornament. Each family member would then have four ornaments, and McGowan said this year's trees have a combined 300 ornaments.
"I think it's a wonderful thing," she said of the cause. "And if anyone can give, now is the best time of year to do it."
Starting Nov. 30, residents and visitors can come into Frist Security Bank, take an ornament off the tree, purchase the item on the ornament and the gift under the tree by Dec. 14. Members of the Byron Women of Today and Christ the King, then present the gifts to those in need.
"It's absolutely wonderful," McGowan said. "Just the thankfulness and gratitude of the parents when they pick up the gift and the feeling they have that they know someone cares about them, which we do."
For more information on the Sharing Trees, The Byron Women of Today can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, while Christ the King Catholic Church can be reached at (507) 775-6455.
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