Education Department promotes 'Giving Tree'

Ashley Favata: The Education department's annual 'Giving Tree' is located on the third floor of the Audrey Hirt Academic Center.Ashley Favata: The Education department’s annual ‘Giving Tree’ is located on the third floor of the Audrey Hirt Academic Center.With the season of giving just around the corner, the Education department is doing its part with their annual Giving Tree project to promote donations to underprivileged children in the Erie area.

The Giving Tree is a Christmas tree with cutout construction paper ornaments located in the Education Department. Each of the ornaments has written on it a specific age level of children to donate presents to this year. Students are encouraged to pick an ornament from the tree to purchase a gift for this Christmas season.

Started in 2002 by Education Department graduate student Kim Schmitt, the Giving Tree tradition has been passed down to each graduate student in the program. This year, graduate assistant Carolyn Nicholas is running the event. The Education department, as it has in previous years, will partner with the Kid’s Cafe after school program for underprivileged children.

The process is simple, according to Nicholas. To get involved, visit the Education department on third floor of Hirt. There, a signup sheet keeps track of all participants who pick tags that specify which age range to buy gifts for, the youngest age group being six years, and the oldest being 15.

There will be a wish list that includes a mix of toys and basic goods for each age group, such as school supplies, clothes and personal hygiene products.

Nicholas said it has been successful in past years and is confident that it will be this year as well.

“This year, we have about 100 tags for kids and about 50 for the adults. They put up the tree Oct. 31, and as of now, 15 [tags] have already gone,” Nicholas said.

Employee of the Kid’s cafe, Margaret Kloecker, has been in charge of this event from the start. Originally, she wanted to create a grocery store setting where kids could pick out what they wanted. However, the children did something no employee expected.

“We found that, even though there were toys and games in the store the most popular items were cereal, toiletries, toilet paper, snacks and school supplies. Toys, surprisingly, came in last,” Kolecker said.

According to Kolecker, even if the children buy for themselves, they still like their presents to be wrapped.

She said that witnessing the selflessness of children is the best part for her, since most children have been known to exhibit selflessness and give their donated items away to their family members.