Giving Tree 2012

All the ornaments for the 2012 Giving Tree have been taken! Thank you all for your generosity. If you have taken an ornament and are purchasing a gift, read below for instructions or jump to the FAQ.

The Newman Center Giving Tree

Giving Tree Instructions 2012:

  1. Take and ornament and replace it with a gold star, if available, on the tree in he space where your ornament was. Keep your ornament in a safe place.
  2. Using the information on the ornament’s label (child’s first name, age, gender, size, and clothing needs), purchase a gift/gifts of clothing for “your” child.  You may also add a small gift or book.A $30 price range per child is suggested.  (If you are able to spend more, please consider taking another ornament.)
  3. Place your child’s gift in a holiday gift bag (do not wrap gift – bags only).
  4. The ornament serves as the gift tag.  Attach the ornament, label side up, to the top of the gift bag to ensure proper matching with the right child.
  5. Bring the gift bag, with the ornament’s label visible, to the Newman Center.  Place the gift bag under the Giving Tree by 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, December 16th.
  6. Questions? email Jo-Ann Konieczny at

Frequently Asked Questions – The 2012 Giving Tree

QWhat is the Giving Tree?

A:  The Giving Tree is a program at the Newman Catholic Center.  Symbolized by our beautifully decorated Christmas tree in the Chapel, the Giving Tree program provides gifts of new clothing to several hundred children in need from this area.  Local agencies submit lists of children and their clothing needs.  Information for each child is transferred to an ornament.  People then select an ornament and purchase clothing for that child.

Q:  What information is on each ornament’s label and how do I use it?

A:  You will see the child’s first name, age, gender, clothing size, and clothing suggestion.  Your label, for example, might read:  “Angelina, 5 yrs, female” on one line, then “child 6X, sweater (pink)” on the next.  In this example, you would shop for a five-year old girl named Angelina who wants a pink sweater, child’s size 6X.

Gender is indicated by “Female” or “Male”.  Age is listed in “Yrs” (years) or “Months”.  For sizes, the label may list “XS” (extra small), “S” (small), “M” (medium), “L” (large), “X L” (extra large)”, or “2XL” (double extra large).   Pay particular attention to the child’s gender, size, and the type of size (e.g., child’s or adult’s).  Please also note that many children do not wear sizes that correspond to their age:  most clothing is larger.  For example, a 7 year old boy may wear a child’s size 10-12 garment.  Many children wear adult sizes.

Q:  Is the Giving Tree program open to those not connected with the Newman Catholic Center?  My family / department / office / club / team / residence hall or organization would like to help.

A:   Yes, the Newman Giving Tree program is open to anyone in the community who wishes to participate.  We work with local media to encourage participation.  Year after year, many groups not affiliated with the Newman Center open their hearts and assist.  We could not accommodate all of the children on our lists without their help.

Q:  When is my gift due back at the Newman Center?

A:  The deadline for the return of gifts (in gift bags) is Sunday, December 16th by 10:30 a.m.

Q:  Can I bring my gift bag to the Newman Center before December 16th?

A:  Yes – and we encourage you to do so!  Place your gift bag, with the ornament’s label side up, under the Giving Tree in the Chapel.  (Note:  we may move gifts dropped off early for storing purposes).

Q:  Why are gifts of clothing specified for the Giving Tree program?  Children like toys, too.

A:  The Newman Center chose a clothing-specific drive as a commitment to help families in Hampshire, Franklin, and Hampden counties fulfill a very basic need:  adequate clothing.  Feel free to add a book or small toy, if desired.  Also, please note that other groups in the area often provide toys to these agencies for these children.

Q:  Why do you want gifts returned in gift bags (instead of having gifts individually wrapped)?

A:  The agencies that provide the children’s names requested gift bags to ensure that each gift is appropriate for each child and family, and that gifts for siblings are of comparable value.  (In the past, agencies have needed to unwrap the gifts that the Newman Center provided before distributing them and we don’t want them to have to do that).   For those of you buying gifts of clothing, using a gift bag is easier and takes less time than gift wrapping.

Q:  Why is a $30 range suggested?  I / we can do more and would like to make children’s Christmases very special by buying them a lot of clothes / more expensive clothes.

A:  We love your spirit of generosity!  The Newman Center has committed to buying clothing for approximately 600 children.  To ensure that every child receives a gift, please consider taking additional ornaments to make a difference in those children’s lives, as well.  Those who buy gifts typically ask us for guidelines, which is one reason why we suggest the $30 range.  Another is that our lists contain many siblings.  These children will see what their brothers and sisters receive.  Therefore, it makes sense to strive for gift choices that meet basic clothing needs and that are of comparable value to avoid issues within families.

Q:  Is a gift card / gift certificate okay? 

A:  Yes!  Clothing store gift cards, or gift cards for stores that have a good selection of children’s clothing, are a great idea.  These are particularly useful for older children / teenagers, or if the ornament’s label doesn’t provide enough information.  Place the gift card in a gift bag, wrapped in tissue paper.  You may wish to include a small gift (such as a book, toy, or small item of clothing) with it.

Q:  How can I help my own children get the most out of the Giving Tree program?

A:  The Giving Tree program is a wonderful opportunity for children to learn about the true meaning of the holidays and generosity.  Many children enjoy selecting an ornament of a child like them – the same age and gender.  We attempt to place ornaments representing younger children near the bottom of the Giving Tree so that your youngster may more easily find his/her “match.”  Children like to place gold ornaments on the tree, and to put the gift bags containing new clothing under the tree.  Consider shopping for clothing gifts with your child so that he or she is fully involved in the process.

QWhat is the symbolism of gold stars on the Giving Tree?

A:   By replacing ornaments with gold stars, we help transform the Giving Tree from a tree filled with paper ornaments (representing children in need) to one filled with symbols of caring and unity from the community (representing needs met).  Both versions of the tree are beautiful in their own right.  As we watch the Giving Tree become more golden in color, we know that more children will be receiving gifts.  The fully golden tree, with gift bags underneath, will stand as a tangible representation of the Newman community’s generosity.

Q:  My ornament’s label doesn’t give me enough specifics about what to buy / my ornament only lists one small item/ there are no sizes listed / items listed are beyond my price range.  What should I do?

A:   You have flexibility in what you purchase.  Agencies are asked to provide suggestions about clothing needs and sizes but this does not always happen.  It is possible that there will be no clothing suggestions.  Other ornaments may specify an expensive item (like a winter coat) or several items that will exceed the suggested $30 range.  Still others may list an inexpensive item (such as a pair of socks).  In all cases, use your best judgment about an age-appropriate clothing gift for this child.  You do not need to follow the suggestion on the label, particularly if doing so will involve exceeding your personal means or the $30 range.  To give you some ideas on appropriate clothing purchases, a child’s outfit (such as a top and pants), sweater, pajamas, or an outdoor clothing item are always welcome.  Another option is to purchase a gift card.

Q:  Times are tough, especially this year.  I want to participate in the Giving Tree but my situation is: 1) I don’t have time to /  the desire to shop OR 2) I don’t have enough money to spare.  Any suggestions?

A:  For Situation #1:  If you don’t have time to shop or would prefer not to, others want to shop but who don’t have the financial means to do so.  We will accept your cash or gift card, and our volunteers will do the shopping for you!

For Situation #2:  If finances are a challenge, and we certainly understand if they are, there are creative ways to participate.  For example, consider soliciting cash donations from your residence hall, office, or organization (if such solicitation is allowed – check first!).  Then select someone to purchase a gift.   Another less expensive option is to participate in the Giving Tree’s Hat, Scarf, and Mitten drive(See below for details).   Another suggestion:  consider helping at our gift sorting event.  Just show up:  we’ll put you to work for about an hour, helping us bundle up gifts for agency pick-up.  Sorting take places Sunday, December 11th, after the 7:00 p.m. Mass.   In each way, all can participate at a comfortable and meaningful level.

Q:  What is the Hat, Scarf, and Mitten drive?

This drive runs concurrently with the Giving Tree program.  Some agencies request hats and mittens only.  For these agencies, we collect donations of new hats, scarves, mittens, and gloves.  Items may be purchased or knitted by hand.  We match hats with mittens, so you don’t need to purchase complete sets, if you would prefer to donate only one item.  There are designated decorated boxes around the Newman Center where you can place your hat, scarf, and mitten donations.

Q:  What if I take an ornament and then find I can’t afford to purchase the clothing — what should I do?

A:  When you take an ornament, please consider it a commitment.  However, we understand that situations arise that may make it difficult for you to make your purchase.  If, for some reason you are unable to fulfill that commitment to buy a clothing gift, please place the ornament back on the Giving Tree or drop it off at the Newman Center – no questions asked – as soon as possible so that someone else can step in.

Q:  What should I do if I lose my ornament?

A:  We ask that you try to keep an eye on your ornament throughout the process.  If you should misplace it, please write us a note and attach it to your gift bag.  In your note, please write “LOST ORNAMENT” and whatever you remember (e.g., child’s name, gender, age, clothing needs), along with what you purchased and the size.  With this information we can do some “detective work” and get the gift to the right child.