Each year the Wish Tree program provides a way for generous souls to help make local children’s holiday wishes come true. The deadline to help fulfill those dreams this Christmas is approaching fast – Monday – and there are still plenty of children in need.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Wish Trees around Inyo County were still filled with bulbs, actually ornament-shaped slips of paper with a child’s age and gender along with a small wish list from income-eligible families and children.
To participate, a person or group chooses a bulb from a Wish Tree at a participating location then buys new, unwrapped gifts as listed on the bulb and returns the gifts to the participating business.
Inyo Mono Advocates for Community Action has placed trees filled with bulbs throughout Inyo County for more than 15 years and, according to the organization, the need this year for gifts as well as warm clothing, is as big as ever.
Wish Trees are available 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. And 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 discounts on gifts for Wish Tree shoppers.
Kathy Keesler, Wish Tree organizer for IMACA, said the need from families has grown from years prior. She explained that there are more requests for coats and jackets this year, for example. But, Keesler said the bulbs are all about the kids and the joy of getting what they want.
There are more than 600 bulbs out this year, Keesler said, for boys and girls up to age 13.
Keesler explained that “Santa’s elves” then organize and package the gifts. Round Valley School will, once again be decorating bags that the gifts will go in for delivery.
Keesler said “elves” and other volunteers will be need ed Thursday, Dec. 15 and Friday, Dec. 16 at the Tri-County Fairgrounds to bag and organize the toys and gifts.
“Kids especially enjoy helping out,” Keesler said.
Response to the bulbs has been amazing, according to several businesses displaying the trees. Studio 27 in Bishop said 32 bulbs have been taken and gifts fulfilled, but a dozen or so still hang on the branches.
El Dorado Savings Bank in Lone Pine said the response from the community has been great with more than a dozen bulbs remaining there.
Hi-Country Market and Hardware in Big Pine said there are still eight bulbs left. Representatives from the market said they were getting “nervous” with bulbs still on the tree and the deadline rapidly approaching.
Keesler said toys and monetary donations are always accepted to help fill out a gift bag or pay for other expenses associated with the bulbs.
For more information, call Keesler or Jane McDonald at (760) 873-8557.