Inyo County residents have an opportunity to get in the giving spirit next week by making a local youngster’s Christmas wish come true.
The 16th Annual Wish Tree program will kick off Wednesday when Inyo-Mono Advocates for Community Action sets up Wish Trees at The Inyo Register, Mountain Light Gallery, AltaOne and Studio 27 in Bishop; Hi-Country Market and Hardware in Big Pine; at Jenny’s Cafe in Independence; and at El Dorado Savings and the Espresso Parlor in Lone Pine.
Each Wish Tree will have dozens of “bulbs,” each representing a local child. The bulbs feature their child’s clothing sizes and a list of what they want for Christmas.
The idea is for residents to “adopt” an underprivileged child from the Wish Tree and purchase Christmas gifts for them to ensure no local youngsters go without this year.
According to IMACA Community Services Director Jane McDonald, each year many families request warm clothing for their children, and toys and games.
“A lot of families request winter clothes, because kids grow so fast they have to buy new warm clothing every year, and it gets expensive,” McDonald said. She added that parents of younger kids often request toys that help children learn and develop.
This year IMACA and local business owners are encouraging residents who “adopt” a bulb off the Wish Tree to shop locally.
A number of local businesses, including Bee Gee’s, Ben Franklin, Bishop Art Supply, Dwayne’s Friendly Pharmacy, JC Penney’s and Spellbinder Books in Bishop and The Espresso Parlor, Lone Pine Drug and Gardner’s True Value Hardware in Lone Pine are offering discount gifts for Wish Tree shoppers.
For those who are unable to adopt a Wish Tree child but would like to help with the program, McDonald said.
IMACA will be accepting single toy and cash donations from those who are unable to pick out a bulb.
McDonald also said that IMACA is always in need of volunteers to help sort and package Wish Tree gifts at the Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fairgrounds in Bishop Thursday, Dec. 15 through Saturday, Dec. 17.
“We always need help with the gift bags, we need a lot of help,” McDonald said, pointing out that there are typically between 600 and 700 bulbs on the Wish Trees.
Families who meet the income requirements have until Monday to apply for the Wish Tree Program.
“It’s impossible to tell how many kids there are going to be, but the need is great right now because the economy is hard right now,” McDonald said.
Last year, McDonald said not all the bulbs on the Wish Trees had been “adopted,” and IMACA relied on monetary donations and single toy donations to ensure every child received a gift on Christmas. She added that the children who don’t have their bulbs “adopted” often get less than those who have families or individuals shop specifically for their Christmas gifts.
“We really appreciate the businesses and organizations who are taking responsibility for large groups of bulbs,” McDonald said, pointing out that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Southern California Edison and the Bureau of Land Management have all expressed interest in “adopting” a group of bulbs.
Once the gifts are purchased, they must be returned to IMACA by Dec. 12 in Bishop and Dec. 16 in Independence and Lone Pine. The gifts should be unwrapped.
The Bishop and Big Pine volunteer fire departments, Inyo County Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol, Bishop Rotary and others will deliver the gifts to children before Christmas.