Tree lighting ceremony marks the start of Tree of Hope campaign

A dark November night got a whole lot brighter at this year’s lighting ceremony to kick off the annual Tree of Hope Holiday Appeal.

Tree of Hope, run by Family & Children’s Services of Frontenac, Lennox & Addington, has been a staple in our community since its inception in the late 1890s. Steve Woodman, the organization’s Executive Director, says that the initiative is an extremely exciting event not just for the staff and volunteers, but also for all the families that they will have the opportunity to help.

“All families need help sometimes, and the holiday season can be an extremely stressful time in particular for people that are facing some challenges,” he said. “The help that we give them and the help they get this time of year through the support of our community, it means the world to them and their kids.” 

The annual Appeal looks to local residents and families for various types of donations to help the service provide meaningful holiday gifts to children and families who otherwise may not have much to give one another at Christmas. Family & Children’s Services is also receiving strong support for this Appeal through the sponsorship of Rapport Credit Union, an organization local to Kingston, which was eager to come on board to help.

Carrie Pascoal, who represented Rapport Credit Union at the ceremony, said that it was an easy decision for her organization to partner with Family & Children’s Services. “The staff at Rapport have been proudly supporting the Tree of Hope fundraising efforts for many years, so to be able to continue that support as the sponsor for this campaign is very special to us. The mission and vision of Tree of Hope aligns very closely with Rapport, and giving back to the community is a large part of who we are as a Credit Union.”
 
Deputy Mayor Liz Schell represented the City of Kingston, and Kingston & the Islands MP Mark Gerretsen, who was one of the driving forces that first initiated the tree of hope holiday campaign project, also attended.
 
John Suart, the Manager of Community Relations for Family & Children’s Services, shared a heartwarming story about one child who is receiving a special boost from the Tree of Hope.
 
The Children’s Aid Society will be supporting more than 900 local kids through the Tree of Hope Holiday Appeal. Of course toys are a big part of this support, but sometimes kids need more than just toys, like Lucas*. Lucas is 11 years old. He loves hockey. He used to play, but he can’t any more. His family simply can’t afford it. They’ve faced some challenges. Our agency has helped with some of them. Hockey can be expensive – the registration fees, the equipment. For most hockey families it’s something they can handle, but for a family like Lucas’s it’s almost impossible. Lucas wants to play. That’s his Tree of Hope wish. And we’re busy making it happen. We’ll be paying for his registration and some new equipment.”
The Frontenacs will also be giving Lucas a custom jersey and VIP tickets to a game, which will include a meet-and-greet with players. “It’s going to be a hockey dream come true. It’s just another way the Tree of Hope brings the community together to encourage kids who really need it every holiday season,” said Suart.
 
At the lighting ceremony, two young brothers were given the happy task of illuminating the huge tree outside the front of the building. They jumped with excitement at the magical sight as they flipped the switch together. The lights flickered on and gleamed, marking the beginning of yet another magical and meaningful Tree of Hope Appeal.
 
(*Name has been changed to protect confidentiality)

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