Snoqualmie Valley Kiwanis Club’s annual Holiday Giving Tree program is coming back for the 2018 holiday season. Held every year at several locations throughout the Valley, the Giving Tree event collects gift donations and makes them accessible to residents who may not otherwise be able to afford gifts for their children.
Kiwanis partners with about 40 businesses, nonprofit organizations, and the cities of Snoqualmie and North Bend to place Christmas trees throughout public spaces. Small tags hang on each of the trees and specify an age and gender for a potential toy donation. The public is encouraged to take a tag, purchase a toy, and donate it back to the location the tag was taken from.
Presents are collected from throughout the Valley and are brought to the North Bend Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where the donations are organized by age and are scored by points based on their cost. Participants in the program can then walk through the donation room and shop for the gifts they would like to give, and volunteers will help gift wrap their choices before leaving.
Debby Peterman, Kiwanis member and one of the event organizers, said families with children as old as 18 years old can sign up at the Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank in North Bend until Dec. 12. Registrations will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, and from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays.
The trees are put up at the various locations the day before Thanksgiving and donations are collected and taken back to the church on Dec. 11 and 12. The gift distribution days are currently scheduled for Dec. 14 and 15.
In 2017, the Giving Tree included a backpack donation program that gave out 130 backpacks weekly. this year Kiwanis has partnered with the Snoqualmie Valley School District to spread announcements about the backpack program through school counselors.
In addition to tags for toys, the Giving Tree program is introducing Angel Tags, gift tags on the trees specifically for seniors who may not be able to celebrate the holidays with friends or family. Kiwanis is working with the rehabilitation and nursing center Regency North Bend to run and distribute Angel Tags.
The Girl Scout organized winter coat drive will be returning this year as well. Collection boxes are available throughout the area and will be offered to families at the gift distribution days.
Peterman said the Giving Tree program has averaged about 600 children served around the Valley, making a significant impact every holiday season. She also thanked the volunteers throughout the Valley who put in time and effort into making the event a reality.
“People are so positive and so generous — when we first started out we could give a couple gifts, it’s grown so much every year,” Peterman said. “Even if you come on the last day, there is still a huge selection.”
The Giving Tree program will include businesses, nonprofits and government buildings in both North Bend and Snoqualmie including North Bend’s Safeway and QFC, Fall City, Snoqualmie and North Bend libraries, Umpqua bank, Re-max Integrity Realty, Mount Si Senior Center, Mount Si Golf Course, North Bend Physical Therapy, Snoqualmie YMCA, Snoqualmie Brewery, Snoqualmie Fire and Police Departments, Chaplins North Bend Chevrolet, and Encompass.
More locations will be added.