With the end of the semester fast approaching, the holidays are on everybody’s minds. On the Marist College campus, students have begun feeling the Christmas spirit a little early with the preparation of Campus Ministry’s Giving Tree event.
“The Giving Tree is a special project run by Campus Ministry that begins in mid-November through Christmas,” says Melissa Conlon, a senior member of the Campus Ministry Student Advisory Board and Co-Chair of the Giving Tree. “Campus Ministry reaches out to numerous agencies that we work with throughout the year and asks them to recommend families that are in need this holiday season.”
This coming season, Campus Ministry will be sponsoring thirty families within the Poughkeepsie and Dutchess County area. Gift requests from the families are written on ornaments and placed on several trees dispersed around Marist. It is up to the student body, as well as faculty members, of the college to pick out an ornament to fulfill the wish.
That being said, there is more to the Giving Tree than meets the eye, as it entails much more work than a simple gift giving ceremony. There are many components that make it successful year after year.
“The Giving Tree is actually numerous events,” says Matthew Rahtelli, another member of the Campus Ministry advisory board. “There is the night of ornament and poster making, setting up the Christmas trees throughout campus with the ornaments of gifts for the families in need, the organization of all the donated gifts, and the Giving Tree mass, where everyone comes to celebrate the season and all the gifts that were donated.”
The gifts will be required to be in the campus chapel by Sunday, December 13th for the Giving Tree ceremony.
“Immediately after the Giving Tree ceremony, a group of volunteers as well as the advisory board, and all the leaders of campus ministry sort the gifts by family,” says Conlon. “Then on Wednesday morning, each agency comes to the chapel to pick up the families’ gifts and make sure that they arrive by Christmas morning.”
The Giving Tree is an event that truly embodies the essence of “holiday spirit” with the selfless giving and charitable time put into giving less privileged a wonderful holiday season. The rewarding nature of this event is something that many seem to be able to agree on.
“This is an event that really gets every member involved,” says Mena Buscetto, a member of Campus Ministry partaking in the Giving Tree event. “It’s not like some clubs where just the board is participating.”
As a senior, Conlon still finds the experience rewarding even though this is her fourth year participating in the project.
“The Giving Tree is rewarding because it reminds us all how thankful and blessed we should feel this time of year and not get lost in the commercialization and the greediness of Christmas,” she says. “By partaking in the Giving Tree we are doing something good and that gives us so much more than any other gift could.”
Rahtelli echoes Conlon’s statements with his own views on why giving families a great Christmas is important to him.
“The sense of being able to know that you gave kids a great Christmas is why I find this so rewarding,” he says. “The holiday season is my favorite time of year and I believe that everyone deserves a great Christmas.”
With an early start to this event, Campus Ministry is well underway with their preparations and are ready to hand the reigns over to the student body as they will be the ones responsible truly making the Giving Tree a success.
“This upcoming week we will be setting up and decorating the trees so the Marist community can begin selecting gifts to purchase,” Conlon says. “So be on the look out for them in all academic buildings!”