Christmas Giving Tree Frequently Asked Questions

I took a gift card tag for a particular store, can I substitute it or add an additional gift?
Many times the card is just a suggestion (for example a teenager or the family most likely shops at xyz-store). If you wish to wrap the card with something like a box of candy it is fine; generally we receive the cards back in an envelope with the tag securely fastened on the outside.

Why are there so many gift card tags on the tree?
We try to give every family a minimum of $50.00 for groceries for their holiday meal.

Some families receive a Target or Wal-Mart card for other incidentals.
Most teens request a gift card rather than an item. Occasionally, we are unable to determine an exact size, a gift card allows the person to purchase what is needed.

Who are we helping this year?
The list of agencies and groups that we are assisting this year are:

  • Parishioners and parishioner referrals
  • Mother's Lifeline
  • St. Peter's Mission
  • St. Anthony's Mission
  • East Valley Catholic Charities Foster Children Program
  • Healthy Families Program
  • Starbright Foundation
  • Military Veterans

Why is it so important to "securely" tape the tag to the gift?
The tag is how we know who is supposed to receive the gift. We want the gifts to go to the right families on the first try! When the tags fall off or can't be read by the volunteers who are sorting the gifts, we often can't identify who is to receive the gift. When that happens, someone does not receive a Christmas present. Take a picture of your Star, so you have it with you when you are shopping or in case it gets misplaced!!

What happens if I don't bring the gift to church by the 11:00 Mass on Dec. 11?
We sort the gifts right after the 11:00 AM Mass on December 11. The gifts are then immediately either loaded into the cars, vans and trucks of our wonderful volunteer delivery force and delivered to the families or they are readied for pick-up by some families. Many of these families begin arriving at church before we are finished sorting. If gifts are brought back later than the 11:00 AM Mass on December 11, we cannot always get them to the recipient before Christmas.

Where do you get the names?
Our focus is first to assist families within our faith community, then those in our civic community, then those who often are not the focus of other groups. We have learned that many groups will provide assistance to children and parents in need, but do nothing for teens. We have tried to fill that gap somewhat.

In recent years the Giving Tree referrals came from parishioners, Mother's Lifeline, Chandler social service agencies, St. Peter's Indian Mission, East Valley Catholic Charities Foster Children program to name most of them.

How do you get the names?
In late September to early October, we put an announcement in the parish bulletin that we are taking referrals. It usually runs for about 3 weeks. We take referrals from parishioners who work for Social Service Agencies as well as referrals for families who are part of our faith community or people parishioners know who are in need of assistance.

We also contact the agencies we plan to work with to figure out how many families or individuals from each agency we can assist. We give them a deadline, usually early October, to provide us with the information about the people they want us to help.

What happens next?
As soon as the referrals start coming in, members of the Giving Tree ministry either contact the referred families to get names, sizes and gift wish information or if we have the information on the forms from the agencies, we start creating wish lists. Volunteers of "Tag Writers" kicks into high gear November 13 to organize all those tags.

Finally, we have one great day when we sort all those gifts by the family identification number. Some of the gifts are delivered to the agencies, and some of the gifts are picked up at the church. Either way it takes a tremendous effort from a fabulous group of volunteers to get all this work done in a short period of time.

What do the tags really say?
The information on the tag should include:

  • A number to identify the family or organization
  • Either the name, age and sex of the person or the more generic "Family", Mom or Dad label
  • The gift to purchase. If the gift is clothing, it should also include a size.

If I see something that says Joe 7/M, what does it mean?
That means the child's name is Joe. He is 7 years old and is a male.

For further information…
Please contact Christy Hendrix, Coordinator of Caring Ministries, at 480.899.1990 x114.