UIS gives back via annual Sharing Tree

John Kurecki, Features Writer

UIS is continuing a long held tradition this holiday in the Sharing Tree event.  The Sharing Tree is a place where members of the UIS community can drop off gifts and have them applied to various Salvation Army fundraisers this holiday season.

Donations can be made through noon on Dec. 10 to either Cynthia Ervin or Janice Marvel.  The gifts should be new and unwrapped. Donators can also leave cash and canned food.  After the deadline, gifts will be delivered to the Salvation Army, who will use them as a part of their Angel Tree and Adopted Family programs.

Regarding the distribution of the presents, Transportation Supervisor and event coordinator Cynthia Ervin said, “Our gifts go wherever the need is.  If they have some areas that are lacking when they get ready to hand the gifts out then ours fill that need.”

This is the 26th year of the Sharing Tree on campus, which has evolved over the years.  While participation varies from year to year, Ervin is happy to contribute, claiming, “People that have worked here for a while know what we do and they’re always very generous…It’s just very heartwarming every year to know that you’re helping somebody else.”

The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program, which UIS donates to via the Sharing Tree event, aims to provide an exciting Christmas morning to struggling families in the community.

The Salvation Army’s website reads, “Volunteers distribute gifts to shut-ins in hospitals and nursing homes, and shelters are open for sit-down dinners.  The Salvation Army endeavors to bring spiritual light and love to those it serves at Christmas so that the real meaning of the season is not forgotten.”

Salvation Army blogger Megan Gandee writes on the website, “thanks to supporters of The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program, thousands of American children will find [joy] waiting under their Christmas trees this year.”

Those who wish to donate to the Salvation Army at a different time can do so at one of many drop-off centers in Springfield.  The charity organization says its mission is “to feed, to clothe, to comfort, to care.  To rebuild broken homes and broken lives.”  The group affects many people in a variety of ways, such as facilitating rehabilitation, hunger relief and services for the elderly.

The charity reports that in 2014 51 percent of money raised, $2,075,371, was gained via “direct public support”.  This category includes contributions, donations, and pledge revenue, among other areas.  It is estimated that 3,335,284 persons benefited due to “holiday assistance”, which was the second most popular event beyond the basic social services.

Those interested in doing so must drop off their gifts by noon on Dec. 10 to either Cynthia Ervin in Business Services Building room 33 or to Janice Marvel in room 165A in the PAC.  Ervin can also be reached at 206-6531 while Marvel’s phone is 206-6378.