ELLINWOOD — The Ellinwood Hope Tree has been providing a Merry Christmas morning to needy children for 12 years, and this year is no exception.
The Hope Tree Project actually began in 1999 as a project of a leadership class taught by Grant Lane, teacher at Ellinwood High School, as a community service project, and it has become an annual event.
The Ellinwood Future Business Leaders of America now sponsor the Hope Tree. This is the fourth year that FBLA has been in charge of the project.
“It is designed for a family that is in need,” said Lorie Betts, sponsor of FBLA.
“We’ve averaged 245 gifts per year,” said Sam Kline-Martin, chairmen of the project and co-president of FBLA. The recipients remain anonymous and are distributed through various sources such as the Family Crisis Center.
“We never have names to help keep the pride of the families,” said Kline-Martin. FBLA will get a list of what is requested.
Betts said that such items such as toothbrushes to basketballs have been requested, including hats, mittens, or toys. In addition to age level appropriate gifts, FBLA also accepts donations, which will be used to purchase any unfulfilled gifts. The donations are also used to provide repairs to the Hope Tree
The Hope Tree is for children in need of a toy up to age 11. Donations can be made at the Ellinwood School/Community Library or at the Ellinwood City Offices. The gift needs can be placed in the Hope Tree box unwrapped. Financial donations can be mailed to EHS Hope Tree Projects.
To get the names, a questionnaire is sent to Ellinwood Grade School parents. Plus, the Ellinwood Ministerial Alliance and the Crisis Center also submit names.
The Hope Tree will also be used as a FBLA project submitted for competition. The project has done well in the state competition, coming in third or fifth place.
“It’s been presented to three state judges who grade the project,” said Kline-Martin. One of his responsibilities is to make sure people know about the project.
Kline-Martin enjoys service to others. “I grew up in a family that believed in helping.”
In fact, as an adult, Kline-Martin said, “I wouldn’t mind running a community service (organization) that helps out.”
Betts said that Crisis Center has a lot of needs in the days before Christmas.
One goal the group has is to start to provide a meal for those in need.
They serve needs in the Ellinwood area first and then in the surrounding area. Those in need can contact the Ellinwood Ministerial Alliance or Crisis Center