The holiday season is here, and throughout Gig Harbor thoughts have turned to the upcoming celebrations, including the annual tradition of shopping for gifts.
While purchases for family and friends are underway, the Gig Harbor Lions Club has set up its annual Giving Trees in the stores of local merchants to spread awareness for those generous shoppers looking to spread holiday cheer to children in need.
The Giving Tree program for the club was started three years ago as a way to connect Gig Harbor residents, said Bob Moore, a Gig Harbor Lions Club member and project coordinator for the Giving Tree program.
“We know that there are other Giving Tree opportunities here in Gig Harbor and we thought we’d add to the opportunity,” Moore, a Gig Harbor resident for 17 years, said. “We organize the collection (of the donations).”
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The club partners with the Gig Harbor Boys & Girls Club and FISH Foodbank, which provide names and distribute the donated toys to the children.
We know that there are other Giving Tree opportunities here in Gig Harbor and we thought we’d add to the opportunity. We organize the collection (of the donations).
Bob Moore, Gig Harbor Lions Club member and the project coordinator for the Giving Tree program
“We run the thing for about six or seven weeks, during that time FISH and the Boys & Girls Club and the Lions get together to make a schedule of what possibly could be needed,” Moore said.
Tags are made up that list a child’s gender, age and desired gift, then the tags are distributed throughout participating Gig Harbor merchants, who create their own interpretation of a Giving Tree to display the tags. Those interested in shopping for a child are able to take a tag and return a gift, purchased from any retailer.
One aspect missing from the tags are the names of the children, which Moore said is an intentional choice.
“We’re looking to preserve the dignity and privacy of the family,” he explained.
This year more than 1,200 gift tags were created and distributed between participating Gig Harbor merchants.
We’re helping (the Lions) promote their Giving Tree and they’re helping us promote our movie. Whenever we have a movie to do a promotion for, we try to reach out to the community to both promote the movie and bring someone else into the theatre.
Cassondra Baglio, assistant manager of Galaxy Theatres in Uptown Gig Harbor
“We look at this as a win-win project to the merchants in our area and the children,” Moore said.
The Lions Club covers all the cost associated with the Giving Tree program.
Moore added that the club is also working in partnership with the Downtown Waterfront Alliance and the Uptown Gig Harbor Merchants Association. With more than 60 local merchants participating, each location offers a different take on displaying the gift tags for the Giving Tree program.
One display that stands out to Moore is the collection center put together by the Galaxy Uptown Theatre.
“The theatre has a wonderful example of employees and employer putting their noggins together to come up with something really great,” Moore said.
Galaxy Theatre has erected a display in its lobby, using the Giving Tree in a cross promotion with the upcoming “Office Christmas Party” movie, said Cassondra Baglio, assistant manager.
“We’re helping (the Lions) promote their Giving Tree and they’re helping us promote our movie,” Baglio said. “Whenever we have a movie to do a promotion for, we try to reach out to the community to both promote the movie and bring someone else into the theatre.”
We feel the program gives an opportunity for our community to give families some dignity. We hope our Giving Trees give some children a happy holiday.
So far, almost 60 tags have been taken from Galaxy Theatre’s Giving Tree since it was first put up on Nov. 10, with seven gifts returned.
Beyond the holiday season, the Giving Tree program ties further into the overall Lions Club motto of “we serve,” Moore said.
“Our motto is to serve and we serve,” he said. “We want to make a difference in Gig Harbor in the holidays for people and children who are less fortunate.”
The Giving Tree program will run through Dec. 21, when the donations will be collected from all Gig Harbor locations and distributed to the children by FISH and the Boys & Girls Club.
“We feel the program gives an opportunity for our community to give families some dignity,” Moore said. “We hope our Giving Trees give some children a happy holiday.”