Giving Tree provides students with a chance to donate to the less fortunate


Gifts turned in by students for the Giving Tree being stored in the office until winter break. Photo by Morgan Hawkins

During the holiday season, organizations collect donations to provide gifts and necessities to those in need. Leadership students extended this idea Nov. 30, when they came together and put up a Giving Tree in the cafeteria.

“Since it’s close to the holidays and a lot of people filter in and out of the cafeteria, we thought it would be ideal if we put gift ideas on a tree so people could come, pluck off a gift idea, and then go buy it,” Life Committee leader Dominic Souto said.

The ornaments on the tree represent various things the less fortunate need or want.

“We put up the giving tree because there are about 30 students at Whitney who are currently homeless, are in foster care or just don’t have a safe place to call home. The gifts range from simple necessities such as toothpaste to fun gifts like a video game,” Madilyn Sindelar, another Life Committee leader, said.

The Giving Tree has been an annual event run by the Life Committee, who is in charge of all clubs and campus recognition as well as some other campus activities. The past two years they’ve strategized new ways to reach out to the students.

“They have had the tree for a few years, but as I remember, last year was the first time the gift ornaments were on the tree. It’s really easy to see the tree walk over and take one, which is why we did the Giving Tree,” Souto said.

After only a week of the Giving Tree set up in the cafeteria, over 35 ornaments have been removed and almost 20 gifts have been turned in.

“What motivated me to donate was because my mom has always feed the homeless since I was little and she is always trying to help people in need. I took some [ornament tags] because her wanting to help rubbed off on me and I felt as if it was the right thing to do,” Ava Jueng said.

Gifts are being turned in daily in the student store. After being turned in, they are stored in the office and will be distributed to the students right before winter break.

“We give [the gifts] to Mrs. Leslie Simpson. She handles all of the students in need at Whitney, so from there she will organize the presents and give them to who needs them. All the extra gifts will be donated to another organization or shelter. The goal is to continue adding gifts to the tree; that way we can give as much as possible to those in need this holiday season,” Sindelar said.

The Giving Tree will be on display until the start of winter break. Life Committee leaders recommend to turn in donations into the student store wrapped before the Dec. 20 deadline.