Holiday Helper Tree to bring the holiday cheer

Graphic by: Alexandra Tobia

Erinn Williams

The Holiday Helper Tree event is bringing the gift of giving to Georgia Southern University students this holiday season.

It was started by Eileen Smith in partnership with the Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement and has been providing people with holiday cheer for 20 years.

“I have a heart for people in need and I know that the GSU family cares about helping others too and what better place to start than our home in Statesboro. My slogan for the program has been ‘catch the spirit and pass it on’ and it touches my heart to see people getting involved and sharing the gift of giving” Eileen Smith, senior administrative secretary of the department of sociology and anthropology, said.

On Wednesday at 10 a.m., the Holiday Helper Tree kick-off event will be held in the Russell Union where Statesboro Head Start students will sing holiday tunes.

The Holiday Helper Tree will be decorated with tags that have gifts wished for by individuals and families in the community.

Students and faculty can pull a tag from the tree and provide someone in need with the gift on the tag this year or if they are part of an organization on campus their group can even adopt an entire family and provide them with holiday cheer.

“It is a great opportunity to come out and donate to someone who truly needs it during the holiday season. This is a huge source a huge source of joy this time of year so we really need as many people as possible to help out,” Danyel Addes, event coordinator, said.

700 individual requests have been made for gifts through 13 different organizations in Bulloch County.

Students and faculty can also pull as many tags as they would like from 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. in the Russell Union Nov. 22 and all gifts are due back to the Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement by Dec. 2.

“I have been volunteering with the Holiday Helper Tree for eight years now. Personally the tree makes me feel connected to the local Statesboro community and the agencies that are represented on it. I feel like I am doing something meaningful.” Jodi Kennedy, associate director for the Office of Student leadership and Civic Engagement, said.

Those who wish to help but do not want to take a tag you can donate cash, a Wal-Mart gift card or any kind of gift-wrapping supplies to the Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement.

They are also looking for individuals who want to help with wrapping up the gifts once they have come in at a wrapping event on Dec. 3.

Students can email or contact the Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement to be added to the volunteer list.

“It’s wonderful to see people become so involved. We never imagined that the program would come this far 20 years ago,” Smith said.

Organization names

  1. Children’s Medical Services
  2. Homebound Services
  3. Brown’s Health and Rehabilitation Center
  4. Pineland Community Housing
  5. Concerted Services
  6. Eagle Health and Rehabilitation
  7. Heritage Inn Health and Rehabilitation Center
  8. Live Oak Migrant Education Agency
  9. Orchard Manor Nursing Home
  10. Senior Companions
  11. Safe Haven
  12. Statesboro Head Start
  13. Westwood Nursing Home