The Giving Tree is a holiday tradition in Ridgefield schools, providing gifts for local families in need. With so many families impacted financially by COVID, the tradition was more important than ever this year—but COVID also made it more of a challenge to organize. Parent teacher organizations and volunteers worked hard to shift from physical to online donations so they could still spread holiday cheer.
The Giving Tree has helped fund gifts for hundreds of students over the years. In the past, Giving Trees were set up at every school. The Ridgefield Family Resource Center identified families with school age children that needed assistance buying gifts. Each gift tag on the tree identified only the gender and age of the student, along with their gift request.
Donors selected a tag from the tree, then purchased the gifts and dropped them off at the school. Volunteers spent many hours sorting and matching the gifts, then storing them away until they could be distributed in time for the holidays.
This year, though, things had to run a little differently. Instead of pulling tags from an actual tree, donors went to SignUp Genius to find a virtual tag. Some schools accepted gift drop offs and others organized gift card or online monetary donations to purchase gifts for kids. The Ridge parent teacher organization sent an inspiring message to families at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School and View Ridge Middle School. “Making this holiday season a little brighter. . . Last year’s Giving Tree collected over 400 gifts. We will not let this year’s remote situation stop us from giving to those in need!”
Ridgefield High School still put up an actual Giving Tree, donated by the Tree Wisemans tree farm. The tree was placed at the Ridgefield Administrative and Civic Center (RACC), near the Ridgefield School District offices. Student Morgan Harter organized the high school’s Giving Tree. Associated Student Body Leadership advisor Stefanie Foster said, “This is Morgan’s second year running the Giving Tree, and each year she gets more creative in efforts of getting more gifts. We placed 50 tags on the tree for children in the community, and within one day, they were all gone.” Additional tags were placed on the tree to help even more kids have a happy holiday. There are still some available at the RACC. Gifts need to be returned by Tuesday, December 8th.
Ridgefield High School's Giving Tree was put up at the Ridgefield Administrative & Civic Center (RACC) by Morgan Harter and other students in the Associatrd Student Body Leadership group.
Giving Tree gift tags identify gift requests from children.
Last year, the schools stored stacks of donated gifts from the Giving Tree. This year, most donations are being made online or placed in drop boxes that allow for safety and social distancing.
In this season of giving, even small donations can make a big difference. While the Giving Tree project is drawing to a close, there are other ways you can help.
- Monetary donations to the Ridgefield Family Resource Center help families in the Ridgefield School District with food and other necessary items. Mail checks or money orders, made out to Ridgefield School District with RFRC in the memo line, to: Ridgefield Family Resource Center, 510 Pioneer Street, Ridgefield, WA 98642.
- The Green Bag Project makes it easy to donate food to the Ridgefield Family Resource Center and Neighbors Helping Neighbors. They literally bring a green bag to your doorstep. You fill the bag with non-perishable food items, then they pick the filled bag up from your doorstep every two months. To get a green bag, email Bill Baumann at RidgefieldFoodProject@gmail.com or fill out the form at https://clarkfoodproject.org/79-2/
- The Ridgefield Lions support online donations to the Ridgefield Neighbors Food Project or to the Ridgefield Lions General Fund for community service at https://ridgefieldlions.square.site/ A $2.50 service fee helps cover credit card fees.
The Giving Tree and other donations are an easy way to make the holidays happier for families in need. Many thanks to the Ridgefield community for its generosity and holiday spirit.