OLEAN — By early afternoon on Thursday, Megan Davis, coordinator of the annual Gift Tree program, was grateful that 96 of the 102 families in need of holiday gifts had been adopted, but hoped the others would be helped, too.
Davis didn’t have to be concerned much longer as by mid-afternoon, the last six families left on the list had been adopted by a church in the community. Davis, executive director of the Interfaith Caregivers program, coordinates the long-running Gift Tree program with the Olean Times Herald, which publishes the holiday needs of families and individuals in publications in November. The list of the current families had appeared in two of the Tuesday’s editions of the Times Herald.
The annual program encourages area businesses, schools, organizations and residents to provide holiday gifts for families and individuals they “adopt” in the county. Families are referred to Gift Tree by local schools and human service agencies that have identified their needs.
Davis said this year’s families were adopted by a number of organizations, individuals and churches. Some adopters are new and others have been longtime program participants.
“The calls had been coming in and we have been getting new callers who are new to the area,” Davis said of adopters. “They said they read the article (in the Times Herald) and thought it was such a great idea.”
She said the Olean Fire Department is a new group that reached out to the program.
“Their union decided to do this,” she said of the fire fighters. “The city of Olean employees always adopt, too.”
Davis said other “regular adopters” who have helped the program include the “Second Floor Nurses” at Olean General Hospital, as well as Cutco employees and the company’s events department employees.
“The VFW Post 1619 (in Olean) always calls every year” to adopt, she added. “And a lot of families are going in together with their adult children” to purchase presents for Gift Tree.”
Another business that helps every year, and keeps adding more families to the list are the Fairfield Inn and Best Western hotels in the community.
“They called right away (and adopted) and did more than last year,” Davis remarked.
On a final note, Davis said the last six families on the list were adopted Thursday by Believers Chapel in Olean.
Gifts can be dropped off at the rear entrance of the Fourth and Maple Complex, the former Allegany Central High School, on North Fourth Street in Allegany from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 10. Masks will be in use. Agencies will be assigned pick-up times for the gifts on Dec. 11.
More information on Gift Tree or Interfaith can be obtained by calling 372-6283 or visiting www.interfaithcaregiversinc.org.
Donations can also be mailed to Gift Tree, P.O. Box 319, Olean, NY 14760.
(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)