Posted by Sally Holden on Jan 03, 2019

 This year our Wishes Tree at Wal-Mart in Bedford Commons was the most successful it has ever been, thanks to contributors posting on social media and encouraging a wider reach. Thank you once again to the whole community for support of this project.

However, also through social media, and a question about seeing the same tag more than once, we realised that despite this being the 5th year for this project, some clarification is required about how the project works.

It has been perceived as a “senior’s tree” and whilst this is not wholly inaccurate it is so much more than that.........................

The tags we use are generic. This is for privacy and logistical reasons. The items purchased go to a program of the Salvation Army that has a database of hundreds of families and their family members and the needs they have. That would explain why people see the same names .For example the demand for coats was high especially with winter starting earlier this year and so it follows there would be more than one person with e.g. the same size needing a coat. It is only this year we became aware through social media that many people thought it was a senior’s tree only, even though the sign on the tree states gifts are for disadvantaged youth and adults. While a good number of seniors are taken care of, the tree is set up for ages 17 – 117. We tried to correct this in the comments of some posts but once information is out there on social media, it is difficult to change the course of that. The Salvation Army has a program where families in need are registered at the various Citadels to receive toys for the children from 0 – 12, $75 Wal-Mart gift cards for those aged 12 – 16, a Christmas turkey and other items to make their Christmas brighter. The gap in this program is that the older children over 16, grandma or grand dad living with them, the parents, or seniors living on their own receive nothing. We carefully select household items, personal care products, clothing and other items for this group based on the feedback we get from the Salvation Army for tags on the tree. We also select a wide range of products from low dollar values and up so that most shoppers regardless of financial ability, can participate. Some of us visited the Salvation Army Citadel in Sackville as part of the project. All the items from the tree were carefully sorted and folded for distribution days where each family will be handed items personally. This happens just before Christmas. The Major at the Citadel said to us that because of this tree, she won’t be saying no to people this year. Due to the tremendous success of the tree this year, it was taken down about 5 days earlier than usual. A few items will trickle in over the following few days. Invariably, what has happened in past years, more people arrive at the Salvation Army in the days following distribution days whose circumstances may have suddenly changed or who were not registered and they need a hand. In previous years, we have seen fires over the holiday season displace families who had no replacement insurance because they could not afford it. There will be some extra items held aside as a contingency for situations like this. There will be some extra personal care items like shampoo, soaps, towels, and socks left over which will be taken to the Salvation Army shelters in Halifax for distribution and given as gifts at Christmas parties held in those locations. For the folks there, having a comfy pair of socks or a clean new and not a hand me down face cloth really helps with their Christmas. We hope going forward; our club will continue to run this project. It got big on us this year and things we learned will shape the project for next year. Again, thank you for your support and apologies for any misunderstanding that may have occurred. We are all volunteers who came up with this idea to do something good. We truly hope that if you see the tree next year, you can participate