Helping needy local families have a happier Chrismas has been a labor of love for Astorian Barb Roberts for 20 years. The Wishing Tree and Christmas Basket program has been around since 1982 and for most of that time Barb has organized volunteers, engaged local businesses and handled the public outreach to help tell the story. The results are wonderful.
The program works like this:
The volunteers get names from the state for families that need gift and/or food help for the current season. The family, listing children's name(s), age, suggestions of sizes and special needs fill out the applications. (The application can be picked up at the desk of the DHS TC desk at the employment office entrance).
The group gets a copy of the application with gift suggestions, making this the source of information they use for the bells on the Wishing Tree and food for baskets.
Volunteers pick up gifts daily. They then organize the gifts by number to ensure each child's privacy. The names are placed on the gifts, family packed and placed with the food baskets if one is requested.
The gifts and food are either picked up by family at the fairgrounds on December 17th or are delivered by the National Guard and Astoria Rotary Club on December 18th to those in Knappa and Astoria who don't have transportation.
Tree / food barrows are placed in all local banks, credit unions, Fred Meyer, Wauna Credit Union in Safeway, McDonalds, Rogue Ales, Aquatic Center, Charter Communications, Court House, Links, Video Horizons in Astoria and Warrenton. Just select a bell from the tree and purchase those requested gifts, returning them unwrapped to the location where you took the bell. It's helpful to include wrapping paper but the gifts should not be wrapped as a security precaution.