Sarah Simpson Column: There’s no wrong gift if it comes from the heart

Angel Tree program a way for the non-profit to collect new clothing and toys for children in need

The other day I picked my Kindergartner up from his school and his little friend and her mom wanted to swing by the school’s office to check out the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree. The Angel Tree program is a way for the non-profit to collect new clothing and toys for children in need during the holiday season. The trees are placed at churches, schools, and shopping centres all around town and would-be supporters can pick a tag from the tree and purchase a gift for the boy or girl suitable for whatever age range is listed on the card.

It’s a great program to help those less fortunate than us and I’ve done it most years since my sister has had children. That’s when it began to sink in how fortunate my family was to have happy, healthy, children with a roof over their heads and food in their bellies. Since having kids of my own, my husband and I have continued the tradition of giving at Christmas via the Angel Tree. We’ve always found a tag for a child that’s of a similar age to our own and we’ve always gotten that tag at one of the local grocery stores. Until this year.

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I hadn’t anticipated picking a tag from the tree at my son’s school when we swung by with his friend earlier this week but we did. My son was adamant we take one home. How could I argue?

Unlike in years past when I included my kids in buying the gift to be donated, unbeknownst to my five-year-old, I had already picked up the gifts this year for a three-to-five-year-old. (We picked the same age range as our kids to really drive home to them that kids their own age sometimes need some help too. Also, it helps us gauge what a kid that age would like if they pick it out and teaches them a valuable lesson, we think, to have them pick something they’d like only to have to give it away.)

Anyway, didn’t want to dampen his spirit of giving though, when we couldn’t find a tag for that range on the tree, so I allowed him to pick a tag for a child slightly older.

He was excited and felt good about the idea of helping another child out.

I was in a bit of a pickle though. Do I go out and buy something to match the ticket or do I find a different tag? If I got something different what would I do with the gifts I already had?

I ended up taking what I had, two gifts for the three-to-five-year-old age range and my green tag for the six-to-nine-year-old age range to the Salvation Army’s Angel tree drop-off location in the Duncan Village mall. I explained to the smiling volunteer at the desk that my son had chosen a card that didn’t match up with the gifts we’d purchased to donate and was there anything we could do.

The volunteer then analyzed my gifts and hollered across the room to (presumably) the volunteer in charge that I’d gotten the wrong presents!

My face flushed a little. Oops. I didn’t mean to make a scene.

Technically, the volunteer wasn’t wrong. My gifts didn’t match the tag but in my defence, I did bring two gifts? Surely that was good for something?

The volunteer in charge (presumably) came over from the other end of the room and looked at me and said “there are no wrong presents!” and thanked me for what I’d brought.

So, the moral of the story? It feels good to help if you can. Donate what you have. There are no wrong presents when your heart is in the right place.

There’s still time to donate. Find an Angel Tree at a local grocery store, church or school and help the Salvation Army give to those in need this holiday season.



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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