Southeastern Ontario’s oldest continuing holiday appeal won’t be collecting toys this year because of COVID-19.
For more than one hundred years the Tree of Hope has been helping families serviced by the Children’s Aid Society. Hundreds of children have been supported each year through generous community donations. Because of COVID-19, the Tree of Hope will not collect toys this year and will distribute gift cards to families instead. These cards will allow families to purchase their own needs for the holidays.
“Last year we collected, stored and then distributed toys, personal items, clothing and more for 750 of the children we serve in Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington. This year because of COVID-19 we have to do something different to keep everyone safe,” said John Suart, Manager of Community Relations.
The Tree of Hope is a holiday appeal that helps children served by Family and Children’s Services and includes people of all faiths and beliefs, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali and more. All are welcome under the Tree of Hope. It provides things kids need, from toys and clothing to culture and heritage.
After a review of the Tree of Hope systems, it was concluded that, due to the pandemic, their regular operation will not be safe this year. This will be one of the first times in a hundred years that toy collection will not be a part of the Agency’s annual holiday appeal. More than 500 donors supported the campaign last year with donations of new toys, personal items, baby gear, books and more.
To keep families, staff and volunteers safe the Tree of Hope will be switching to issuing gift cards to families to buy what they need when they need it for the Holidays. Gift cards have been used for some families in the past, and the system currently in place for that will work with pandemic measures. Instead of asking for toys, the Tree of Hope will be asking people to donate money so it can buy gift cards. They have set a monetary goal of $50,000 for this year’s campaign.
“We know that for many of our donors buying toys and delivering them to the Tree of Hope was special. For them, it was the meaning of the Holiday Season,” said Suart. “We hope that they understand that we are all having to adapt to our new world and we’re asking them to stay and donate the money we need to make the Tree of Hope work.”
“If there ever was a time when the kids we serve needed our help over the Holidays it is now. After all of the things that COVID-19 has done these kids deserve a great Holiday Season. And that’s what we intend to give them.”
Find out more about the Tree of Hope or make a donation at www.HelpTreeofHope.ca.