When I was little, I remember my parents taking their Sunday School class of high school freshmen to the mall to choose a child from the Angel Tree and then purchase gifts. I always thought it was so cool to pick up a tag with nothing but a child’s first name, clothing sizes, and perhaps a favorite toy listed and to watch the 14 and 15 year olds (although when I was only 6 or 7 I swore they were like 25!) pick out gifts. Buying a gift for someone you don’t know isn’t always easy, but it was such a great thing to do.
As I have gotten older, I always remember the Angel Trees at Christmas. Sure, when I was in college and broke beyond belief I didn’t buy a gift for a needy child. To be honest I was too busy wasting what little money I had on beer. Now that I’ve matured just a bit and don’t spend every last dime I have on beer I tried to get back in the tradition. The few years I lived in Alexandria there was an angel tree of sorts in the lobby of my office building so a colleague and I would choose a kid and go in together to get a gift.
Last year I skipped, but this year I got really excited when my office sent out an email saying they had a “Giving Tree” in the main lobby. Same thing as the Angel Tree back home. I think I’ve been to the office twice since Thanksgiving. Once to pick out my giving tree tag, and then again to drop off my gift.
I picked a 4 year old girl named Olivia (last time I bought for an 11 year old boy). It said she wanted Barbie or Dora the Explorer toys. I immediately took this to mean she loved pink, so I headed to the outlet mall and got shopping! I pick out the cutest pair of pink velcro Vans, a pair of flare jeans, a plaid shirt with ruffles, an adorable red caridgan (thanks to Lauren for finding that on the rack!) and matching socks! The great thing about the outlet mall, was with my self-imposed $50 budget I was able to get her a ton of things. The shoes were onyl $7.50!! and the whole outfit only $35. I then swung by Target to pick out an awesome Holiday Barbie with a ton of accessories on sale for only $8! I placed all my items neatly in the bag and tied my tag on.
Sure, she’s a four year old girl and she’ll think Santa brought her clothes and a Barbie, but I get the satisfaction in knowing that by just spending $50 I was able to help a little girl in need and buy her things that her parents would not be able to afford.
I plan to keep up my annual tradition of buying a gift for an angel tree/giving tree/or whatever people are calling it. In all the craziness of the holidays; with decorating and buying gifts for people who don’t really need them; I am happy to know I am doing my small part and giving back, even if I only do it once a year.