MODESTO — The tags represent requests for one need gift such as a pair of pants and one wish gift such as a doll, or, in some cases, a video game system. But what the tags on the Soroptimist Christmas Tree represent is so much more, as evidenced by one mom whose three children were on the tree.
The gifts purchased by people who stopped by and took the tags provided the only gifts her kids received, the mom said. You know, the gifts were wonderful and the kids were really happy, but more than that, it gave them hope. We all felt like someone cared, and weve never forgotten that.
For the 28th year, members of Soroptimist International of Modesto have put up the Community Christmas Tree, with tags representing needy children in the area. Roughly 3,200 kids, from infant through age 17, are represented on the tree. They are referred through local schools, nonprofit groups and government agencies that help the needy.
Soroptimist members and volunteers staff the tree daily at Vintage Faire Mall from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., except for Thanksgiving Day. Many of the past recipients whose circumstances have improved come back to purchase gifts for others, knowing how much they mean.
Other volunteers come from the community, including one teacher who wrapped up some small boxes of crayons for her students last year. Most of the students tore into the packages, but one little boy put his in his pocket. When the teacher asked why, he said it was the only thing he would have to unwrap on Christmas.
Heres how the tree works: Shoppers pick a tag, which includes a childs first name, age, gender and clothing sizes, as well as a Christmas gift wish. Gifts are then purchased many stores in the mall offer deals if you show them the tag and then returned, unwrapped, to the tree.
Volunteers wrap and store the gifts until the referring agencies pick them up for delivery to the children before Christmas.
Cash donations, used to buy gifts for children whose tags arent taken or returned, can be sent to SCCT, P.O. Box 1353, Modesto 95353.