In the spirit of giving
November 24, 2009
A long-standing holiday office party tradition has become a way to help people in need put gifts under their trees this holiday season.
Fraser resident DiAnn Butler came up with the idea of a community “White Elephant” exchange while cleaning out her closets this fall. She discovered a pile of gifts and household items that she’d never opened or never used.
“It was really nice stuff,” she said. Rather than re-gifting the items to coworkers, friends or relatives, “I wanted it to go to somebody who would really need and appreciate it.”
With the help of the owners of Seven Sisters, who had several months remaining on a lease at the Alco shopping center after relocating, Butler and her mother Sandy Greis set up a collection center for gift donations.
They filled the shop with new and barely used toys, jewelry, books and household items. Butler and Greis donated free gift wrapping.
The gift center opened its doors last weekend for a two-weekend run, Butler said. The event was open to everybody in the community and nearly 100 people came in to “shop” the first weekend. Each person was allowed three gifts.
Kids picked out gifts for their parents. Parents picked out gifts for their kids. Some kids even picked out gifts for themselves.
“One nice thing we did for some mothers was to make gift baskets using donated bath and body products,” Butler said. “We added a tranquility CD or slippers and wrapped it up and put it in a bag so the kids could surprise their mothers with it on Christmas morning.”
Butler expects an even bigger crowd this coming weekend with the post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping rush on everybody’s minds. In preparation, she hopes to receive more new toys, since that was the item in greatest demand.
She also welcomes more contributions for the gift baskets and anything in gift condition, as long as it’s not clothing.
The community gift center will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 27-28.
Whatever remains at the end of the weekend will be donated to another charitable organization, Butler said. They are also accepting donations for Mountain Family Center and have already collected $200 in the jar in addition to donated coats and canned goods.
“The people who benefited the most from this are my mom and I,” Butler said. “We felt like this is in the spirit of what we want Christmas to be.”
To schedule a drop-off, contact Butler at 531-1343.
– Reid Armstrong can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610 or firstname.lastname@example.org