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The 2016 Angel Tree in the Missoula Y lobby.

The Angel Tree Project is a time-honored tradition here at the Missoula Y. This month’s post is written by Angel Tree Coordinator, Daurine Spritzer. 

Every year the Missoula Y organizes its Angel Tree Project to provide gifts to children who need a little extra holiday cheer. In 2015, the Y was able to provide presents and toys during the holiday season to nearly 50 families (over 110 youngsters between the ages of newborn and 15) from DeSmet School, Hawthorne School, Franklin School, Russell School, Rattlesnake School, Washington School, and Hellgate Elementary School–Buildings #1 and #2. Each child received two or three age-appropriate toys, games or books, along with five presents that included gloves, hat & socks, a sweatshirt and/or some type of clothing outfit for the little ones.

To provide an idea of who are recipients of the Y members’ and staff’s generosity, I would like to share a couple stories. Our first family included both parents and their three young children. The father had his hours cut drastically three months before Christmas, while the mother continued to work two jobs. However, two of the children had chicken pox so she had to take off two weeks from work ( without any sick leave) which set them back quite a bit financially. We were so happy that we could provide presents for their youngsters.

Our second family had faced a situation that we see nearly every year—a single mother with two little girls, one in kindergarten and the other in preschool, who had relocated to Missoula to escape an extremely abusive situation. The mother was enrolled full time at the University of Montana, which left her only working part-time in a low-paying job. Again, it was very gratifying to be able to provide presents and toys to the girls on Christmas morning.

Although the stories are different every year, they still have one common theme—needing a bit of help in providing some holiday spirit for their children. Our families are always so grateful for the help that the Y members and staff, and a number of local businesses, are able to provide so they can have presents under the tree for their children. We also receive a grant from the Town Pump Foundation that helps to purchase Southgate Mall gift cards to cover “Angels” who were selected from the tree, not returned with gifts.

Thanks again for helping us to be a part of making Christmas special for so many children in 2016. It continues to be a great way to end our year!

Thank you to our Y guests, members, and staff for making the Angel Tree Project possible.