Photo By: Kira Heide from Unsplash

The City of St. Catharines is asking the community for assistance with its annual holiday tradition, formerly known as the Tree of Little Angels campaign, but now renamed the Tree of Giving campaign.

The Tree of Giving campaign, now in its 24th year, helps local families enjoy the holiday season by donating hundreds of toys and gift cards to less fortunate children. While it has a new name, the campaign continues to collect new, unwrapped gifts in support of Community Care St. Catharines and Thorold. 

Monetary and gift card donations are accepted and preferred, as Community Care will be primarily distributing gift cards this holiday season. The organization will continue to use the physical gifts in the coming year to help local children celebrate special occasions. 

From now through to Monday, Dec. 13, Community Care bins will be set up at St. Catharines City facilities to accept donations of gifts or gift cards. Those who want to donate new, unwrapped toys should print gift tags from the city’s website to attach to the gift, as traditional physical tags that visitors could take from trees at city facilities will no longer be available. Donations should be directed toward children sixteen years old and below.

Children under the age of two can be given cuddly toys, educational toys, talking books, or large blocks, according to Community Care. Toy cars, trucks, children’s flashlights, dolls, books, puzzles, educational toys, art and craft supplies, puzzles, and models can be given to children aged three to five. Action figures, games, puzzles, models, cameras, and jewelry can be given to children aged six to eight. Gift ideas for children aged nine to 16 include gift cards, sports supplies and equipment, cosmetics, and hair accessories.

Donation bins will be located at Seymour-Hannah Sports and Entertainment Centre, St. Catharines City Hall, Port Weller Community Centre, Russell Avenue Community Centre, St. Catharines Kiwanis Aquatics Centre, St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre, West St. Catharines Older Adult Centre, Dunlop Drive Older Adult Centre, and Port Dalhousie Older Adult Centre this year. Those who want to make a monetary donation can do so at any of these donation locations. Gifts can be left with facility monitors stationed at public entrances for city facilities that require an appointment or registration to access. 

For the second consecutive year, the city is also allowing residents to make cash donations directly to the Community Care Tree of Giving program via text message. Those interested can text the word “GIVE” to the number 20222. They’ll then receive a text back with the option to donate either $10 or $25. For the first time, donations of any size can also be made to the program via a secure online portal using a credit card or PayPal. 

Beyond the Tree of Giving Campaign, Community Care St. Catharines & Thorold have been serving the less fortunate in their respective communities for over a century. Their programs include everything from food and shelter security to emergency services and support, all of which help support those in need with achieving financial independence. Although the majority of these programs are delivered in St. Catharines and Thorold, some are delivered regionally and are open to anyone in Niagara.

In addition to their regular support services, Community Care anticipates assisting over 2,500 families this holiday season with dinner and gifts. Visit their website for more information on the organization and its services. Visit the campaign’s website to learn more about this year’s Tree of Giving, including a complete list of gift suggestions and donation options.