The Giving Tree at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Westborough Mass.

January 4, 2013 Volunteer Stories
For the past nine years, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Westborough, Massachusetts, has taken on the challenge of providing Christmas gifts to people being served by Lutheran Social Services (now Ascentria Care Alliance). This year generous church members provided gifts for over 170 individuals from three Worcester LSS programs! Enthusiastic and appreciative recipients of these gifts were moms and their babies at the Florence House, developmentally disabled residents at North Ashland Street Residence, and children and teens in the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors program.

Church member Chrisann McCarthy coordinated the Giving Tree. Chrisann worked with the Sunday School Superintendent to have the children trace and decorate the gift tags and then she put a wish list on the other side of each tag. Many church members or families take numerous tags, and many reach out to be sure there aren't any tags left that need to be fulfilled. Once the gifts are collected at the church, they get sorted and the delivery is coordinated.

On a brisk sunny afternoon in December, Alane Wanda and her husband Mark Wanda arrived in the parking lot at Lutheran Social Services in Worcester with two large vehicles overflowing with Christmas gifts! Alane helps to coordinate all of the Service and Outreach initiatives at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and fortunately her husband agreed to help with the delivery.

Although for many years Mark had witnessed Alane’s involvement with the Giving Tree, this was the first year that he had an opportunity to help deliver the gifts. He was so touched by the enthusiasm of the LSS staff that helped to unload the cars that he later said to Alane "it was only two hours of my time and it was so satisfying to deliver the gifts to LSS."

When Alane was asked how she felt about the Giving Tree project, she commented “I am always amazed by several things - the kids who ask for 'anything' and the overwhelming generosity of our congregation. We list the items requested on the tag but do not expect all of the items to be returned. Our members consistently fulfill ALL of the items on the tag. This year we had a member who provided a set of pots and pans, flatware and cooking utensils. We needed an entire large box to hold it all! We also had a couple who took a tag with a request for a bicycle and called for more specifics as they wanted to get the right kind of bike and bought a helmet as well! The Giving Tree is the most satisfying outreach program that the church does.”

Sincere thanks to the members of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church for sharing their Christmas kindness with LSS.