There may be no actual “tree” in our Saint Michael Parish Giving Tree, but our parishioners are generous and loving when it comes to the “giving,” and have been so for the past 25 years of the program.
“Last year we distributed $14,300 worth of gift cards to 572 low-income children and veterans,” says Kellie Patton, Steward for our SMP Community Outreach Ministry. “The recipients each year are low-income children attending school in the Tumwater School District, children receiving services through Catholic Community Services, and veterans living at Drexel House.”
Gift cards are collected from Thanksgiving to the first week of December, with notices posted through the weekly bulletins, as well as signs posted in our gathering spaces in the church and school.
“During COVID, we moved away from the request tags and collected gift cards for distribution instead. We’ve chosen to continue that practice. The gift cards empower the parents by giving them a chance to shop for their own kids,” Kellie says. “ This way, the parents are also a part of the giving.”
We are asked to donate gift cards in $25 increments from Target, or Walmart, among other places, so there are many locations available for redemption.
The Giving Tree helps build stewardship in our parish.
“It’s been a popular program in our ministry in the past, and the visibility of the tags helped build excitement,” Kellie says. “It was an easy transition to gift cards. It’s been a pretty popular way to support our community in a simple way.”
As part of the Giving Tree project involving the Drexel Center, our Knights of Columbus prepare a Christmas dinner there where the cards are distributed.
If donors prefer, Kellie also can use cash donated to buy SCRIP cards at St. Michael Parish School, which supports the school.
The Giving Tree certainly makes Christmas a special time for those receiving the gift cards, but it also has brought joy to those directing it.
For Rich Pallechio, the generosity displayed by our community year after year has truly been amazing.
“Thinking about it nearly makes me tear up — talking about it almost always does,” Rich says. “The first few years I did it, I’d make up a sign-up sheet where people would record their names and phone numbers and the tag number they took, so I could make sure I accounted for all of them.”
After a few years, Rich stopped recording the names and numbers, because everyone who participated was very good about returning the tag with a gift or gifts. And when it was time to take the gifts to the city or the Lions, he would ask people if they could help after Mass — so generous was the response, that there would always be more car and truck drivers than he needed.
“And when it comes time to load the cars and trucks up, people come out of the woodwork to help,” he says. “And the city, and then the Lions, always commented about the quality of the gifts. Truthfully, seeing how our parishioners respond makes me very proud to be a member of Saint Michael Parish.”
Anyone interested in donating gift cards should either drop them off in the parish office, or mail gift cards to the parish:
Saint Michael Parish
c/o Kellie Patton
PO Box 766
Olympia, WA 98507