The seasons of Advent and Christmas are a time to prepare for and celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ. For many, it is a time spent with friends and family, sharing meals and exchanging gifts. However, some members of the community may find this season more challenging as they do not have the money and resources for even their basic needs, let alone to celebrate in this way. During Advent, St. Leo’s strives to help these members of the community by helping provide for some of their needs through the Giving Tree.
The Giving Tree is put up during the first week of December. Parishioners are encouraged to take a tag from the tree, purchase the item on the tag, and then return the gift, wrapped with the tag. Gifts should be returned to the tree by Dec. 21.
“This is the way that we, as a parish, can give to those less fortunate, to help them during the Christmas season,” says Peachis Amadou, St. Leo’s Outreach Coordinator. “We provide to all of the local shelters in town, Hope Harbor, Crossroads, and Crisis Center. We also give a lot of the diapers and baby items to the Collage Center.”
The Giving Tree has long been a part of the Advent season at St. Leo’s. Participating in the Giving Tree is a wonderful way to help take care of other members in the community. Many of the recipient agencies provide a particular service, and they do not have the funds to provide the extra essential items that the Giving Tree provides for their clients.
“This ministry is practicing many of the Catholic social teachings such as loving your neighbors, taking care of the poor and vulnerable, and serving others,” Peachis says. “During Advent, we want to be alert and ready for Christmas, not weighed down and distracted by the cares of the world. The best way to do that is by showing love to others and by taking care of the poor and vulnerable.”
Peachis shares that when she worked at Hope Harbor, she would come and pick up gifts for her clients. The items were used for those who were just coming into the shelter and didn’t have any personal items.
“The haircuts (gift cards for haircuts) were a big hit at Hope Harbor because when you are homeless, a haircut is usually the last thing that you think about,” Peachis says. “So many people were so happy to get a haircut.”
For more information about the Giving Tree, contact Peachis Amadou at 308-382-4753 or email@example.com.