December 2, 2014

‘Giving Tree” offers a chance to help

By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer

The holidays are meant to be a time of fun and excitement. A time where family and friends come together to celebrate and spend quality time with one another. However, for the less fortunate and those who are struggling financially, it is a time filled with stress and heartache, especially when children are involved.
The Eagles Auxiliary is hosting the ‘Giving Tree Project’ for the second year in a row. Two Christmas trees will be put up, one at First International Bank & Trust and one at McKenzie County Bank. Both trees will be filled with tags that will include a number instead of a name, the age of that individual, certain interests they might have, and their clothing sizes. There will also be miscellaneous tags for household items as well.
The idea is for people who have the means to help, to take a tag, purchase one or more of the items on the tag, and then return these items to the respective bank. Collections will be taken through Dec. 15.
A Christmas party will then be held for these families at the Eagles Club on Dec. 20, at noon, where they can come enjoy a hot lunch, visit with Santa, and pick up their Christmas gifts, along with a food box, complete for a Christmas dinner at their home.
“Not only is there a need for the children,” said Claudia Fegert, Eagles Auxiliary president, “usually the family is in need as well.”
After all of the items come in from the tags on the trees, the Eagles Auxiliary picks the items up, then gets busy working on separating out all of the families, and then will supplement what they feel is needed for each individual or family. According to Fegert, the Eagles Auxiliary always purchases coats, mittens, hats and boots for each child.
“Last year we were able to help 17 families, which included 47 children,” said Fegert. “We made sure each child had winter items, a couple of outfits, and a couple toys. We also were able to provide each family a food gift card, the amount depending on the size of the family, to purchase the fresh fruits and vegetable items, etc., that wouldn’t be appropriate to put in a box that may set for several days.”
Every family also received household items; items like towels, cleaning products, pots and pans, toiletries, etc.
“According to Social Services, a lot of these people are in need of household items as well,” said Fegert. “Our goal is not to turn anyone away. We want to help as much as we can.”
According to Fegert, there are already 33 children on her list of individuals and families in need this year. Social Services typically provides the majority of names to the Eagles Auxiliary, to be put on the list for the ‘Giving Tree Project,’ after Social Services sends out letters to people asking if they want to participate and put their name on the list. The Eagles Auxiliary hopes to be able to help around 50 children this year.
Also, in addition to the trees located at the banks with the tags hung on them, the Eagles Club puts up a ‘money tree,’ which helps purchase the extra items that may not come in otherwise.
“We don’t look at the amount or the monetary value when items come in,” said Fegert. “Anything and everything is appreciated. It’s the thought behind it, not the monetary amount. I remember last year, a homeless man wanted to help and all he had was $3. He gave his last $3 to help someone else.”
This program is successful because of the community. Without private donations from individuals, companies, and funding from other various groups, the ‘Giving Tree Project’ wouldn’t be able to help families celebrate the holidays the way they were meant to be celebrated, without the stress and heartache.
If you know of a family who could really benefit this holiday season and is struggling, please talk to that individual or family, make sure they are okay with their name being given out to the Eagles Auxiliary, and then call  Fegert at 701-842-6186. If you want to donate items, you can either drop them off at either bank or mail to the  Eagles Auxiliary, in care of Claudia Fegert, PO Box 1403, Watford City, ND 58854.