Diane Garding reorganizes some of the toys available at the North Bend Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Evan Pappas/Staff Photo)

Diane Garding reorganizes some of the toys available at the North Bend Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Evan Pappas/Staff Photo)

Holiday spirit headquarters: Giving Tree program wraps up with two-day shopping event at North Bend LDS church

Snoqualmie Valley Kiwanis held their annual Giving Tree event last week, where hundreds of donations of toys were available at the North Bend Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).

The Giving Tree event is an annual donation drive that provides toys and gifts for families in need for the holidays.

Snoqualmie Valley Kiwanis, in partnership with the LDS church and several Valley businesses and non-profits, work to make sure children across the Valley have something for Christmas.

Debby Peterman, Kiwanis Giving Tree coordinator, said she has seen so much support from Valley residents this year, in donations and volunteers. Spacelabs for example, filled up Peterman’s entire car with donated gifts to bring to the church.

She also mentioned help received from Umpqua Bank in North Bend, which became a drop off point for many gifts and allowed visitor to directly deposit money to the Kiwanis Giving Tree Fund.

“Some people elect not to by presents, so they donate money,” she said. “Some years we have to go shopping, last night we didn’t have enough teen gifts so our Kiwanians went shopping with teenagers for teen gifts, so that’s what the money goes toward.”

Peterman also praised the volunteers who worked as tree caretakers, checking in at more than 40 Giving Tree locations around the Valley and transporting gifts back to the church.

The Giving Tree event was open for registered families to shop on Thursday, Dec. 14 and ran until Friday at noon. During that time, the church was staffed with eight to 10 volunteers at all times, Peterman said.

Volunteers helped check in shoppers, and helped them go through the process of selecting gifts and having them wrapped.

This year, Peterman said she had a first, a shopper who also wanted to give back by volunteering as well.

Volunteers, she said, are vital to the success and operation of the Giving Tree every year.

Sometimes left over gifts remain and while some are put in storage to save for the next year’s Giving Tree event, other are donated back to organizations like Eastside Baby Corner.

“Last year we donated stuffed animals to the fire departments and the police department to give out to kids in need… we donated some leftover larger coats to the senior center for the thrift store, and the smaller coats went to the schools,” she said. “We try to find a place for everything.”

Angela Riley-Garcia wraps gifts at the Giving Tree shopping event. (Evan Pappas/Staff Photo)

Angela Riley-Garcia wraps gifts at the Giving Tree shopping event. (Evan Pappas/Staff Photo)

Jen Stokes volunteered as a gift wrapper on the first Giving Tree shopping day. (Evan Pappas/Staff Photo)

Jen Stokes volunteered as a gift wrapper on the first Giving Tree shopping day. (Evan Pappas/Staff Photo)

Giving Tree volunteers work to organize the event Thursday morning as the first shoppers enter the church. From left: Debby Peterman, Sandy Emerson, Diane Garding, Ruth Maule, and Christine Copitzsky. (Evan Pappas/Staff Photo)

Giving Tree volunteers work to organize the event Thursday morning as the first shoppers enter the church. From left: Debby Peterman, Sandy Emerson, Diane Garding, Ruth Maule, and Christine Copitzsky. (Evan Pappas/Staff Photo)

Ashley Meek and Laura Keller wrap gifts Thursday morning. (Evan Pappas/Staff Photo)

Ashley Meek and Laura Keller wrap gifts Thursday morning. (Evan Pappas/Staff Photo)

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