One of the philosophical pillars of the Learning Tree Daycare is to teach the kids there about helping other people. “Teaching kindness and all of that stuff, it all feeds into what we want the kids to be learning,” says Christine Greff, who directs the daycare’s programming.
Teaching kindness was the impetus behind the first Gift of Community tree, last year.
Greff organizes the Gift of Community Tree. She works with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Yukon, the Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre and Kaushee’s Place. These organizations bring information about kids who live in poverty, who won’t get much for Christmas. Information includes child’s age, gender, size, and maybe details like, loves Lego, or loves books.
Each child’s information is written on an ornament and placed on the tree. Members of the public come to the daycare and choose an ornament. They buy a gift that corresponds with the child’s information. They wrap the gift, and return it with the ornament, to the daycare. It goes under the tree.
There were so many gifts under the tree last year that some had to be moved into Greff’s office.
“It was too much temptation for the kids who go to the daycare.”
Last year the tree served 73 kids and mothers.
Greff doesn’t know how many will be served this year, she is waiting for information from her three partners.
When this was written, the week of November 21, the Christmas tree was set up in the lobby of the daycare, and it was adorned with paper ornaments. It was cold outside, the daycare was warm and cozy with the smell of grilled cheese sandwiches. Toddlers were grouped around a man, who was telling a story.
This year the tree will be ready on November 30. The daycare will accept gifts up to December 15. The gifts will be delivered before Christmas eve.
Last year the gifts were well received, says Greff. She can’t give more details than that because she doesn’t know who the kids are, and she didn’t see their reactions upon getting a gift.
The tree is meant to do more than donate gifts to kids in need. It’s meant to teach the kids going to the daycare that there are kids in need. The daycare staff will take down the ornaments with the kids, and discuss the meaning of the information on it. It’s supposed to “teach acts of kindness,” says Greff, and it’s showing kids how to give back to their community.
For Greff personally, the Gift of Community tree does even more. It gives her “that feeling of knowing you’re making a kid smile.”
It’s to show the parents of the kids who receive the gifts that “even if they’re going through a hard time, there are people who care,” says Greff.