Giving Tree provides gifts for Valley families in need

This month, homeless and low-income families in Snoqualmie Valley have the opportunity to provide gifts for their children during the winter holidays, with the assistance of Hopelink's Giving Tree program.

The Snoqualmie Valley Kiwanis Club, with the help of Hopelink, is again sponsoring the annual program this year. Hopelink, a community action agency, has been providing gifts for its clients' children for at least 25 years.

"December is definitely a whirlwind for us," said Jennifer Filipovich, center manager at the Snoqualmie Valley Hopelink. "I think it's a wonderful program and it's done in a way that's very respectful to the families."

Trees at various locations in Snoqualmie and North Bend are decorated with tags inscribed with a gift suggestion (such as CDs or makeup) and an age. Those interested in giving take a tag from the tree, purchase the gift, attach the tag to the new unwrapped gift and bring it back to the tree by Dec. 19. Rather than assigning a gift to a specific child, the gift is then taken to a gift room and assigned points in accordance to its worth.

Based on the size of the family, participants are given a certain amount of points to "spend" in the gift room.

Members of the Snoqualmie Valley Kiwanis distributed about 1,400 tags this year and about 1,300 were distributed last year. Some of the gifts already donated this year have included a 15-speed girls bike and remote control cars.

"The community is being really, really generous again this year and that's really awesome to see," said Tina Malone, chairperson of the giving tree program of the Snoqualmie Valley Kiwanis Club. "Without the community donating the gifts, we wouldn't have anything."

Malone has been involved with the Giving Tree program for almost a decade.

"The Kiwanis Club is fiercely proud of Tina, along with all of the other people whose selfless work make this program happen," said Donald Smith, president of the Snoqualmie Valley Kiwanis Club. "The generosity of this community is what makes this a special place to live."

Outlets for the Giving Trees this year are Safeway, Cascade Office Supply, Sterling Savings Bank, ACE Hardware, Eastside Storage, QFC, the Moose Hall, Blimpies of North Bend; Bibo's Coffee, IGA and Mike's Cascade Grill of Snoqualmie Ridge; Snoqualmie Market, Falls Pharmacy and Snoqualmie Falls Credit Union of Snoqualmie; and the North Bend and Fall City libraries. The gifts will be distributed on Dec. 21-22 at the Sallal Grange, 12912 432nd Ave. S.E., North Bend. The set-up day will be Dec. 20.

"It's a very worthwhile thing to be doing for the community," Malone said. "[The families] are so appreciative. When they walk out of the grange, some of them have been in tears."

Sign-ups for the gifts will take place on Dec. 13 at the Mount Si Senior Center, 411 Main Ave. S. and Dec. 15, from noon to 6 p.m. at Sterling Savings Bank, 146 W. Second St. Those wanting to sign up will need photo identification if they are more than 18 years old. Social Security cards or birth certificates will be required for all persons within the household. People must also be able to show proof of physical address and proof of last month's income. Current Hopelink clients will not be required to furnish this information, which is requested to ensure that all recipients are treated equally and to identify need.

For more information about the Giving Tree program or to schedule an appointment, call (425) 333-4163.

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