Urbana families with children who could use an extra smile this Christmas and people who know of Urbana families who may need more good tidings than usual during the holiday season are invited to register children ages 12 and younger to receive a gift from the Giving Christmas Tree.
This is the 11th year that the Urbana Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 93, in conjunction with the Urbana Police Division, is sponsoring the program.
“It’s been a crazy year,” said Lodge 93 member Josh Jacobs. “It’s been tough economically for families and we want to do our part to make a difference.”
Jacobs was among those who started the Giving Christmas Tree 11 years ago.
“We were looking for ways to get involved with the community, and with children in the community, to build relationships,” he said of fellow lodge members.
They came up with the idea of providing gifts for children in families that could use something extra at Christmas.
A couple of days before Christmas, lodge members will knock on the doors of registered children and gifts will be delivered.
“It’s been a real blessing, not just for the children, but for officers who are involved,” Jacobs said. “We get hugs, see tears of family members and the excitement of the children. That’s the whole reason for the Christmas season, to give to others, to help others. We want to be involved in that.”
And, the community can become involved also by registering children and purchasing Christmas gifts.
“It’s not just about us reaching out, but the community helping itself,” Jacobs said.
Registering children, buying gifts
Starting Monday, Nov. 2, registration forms will be available just outside the Police Division window in the lobby of the Urbana municipal building, 205 S. Main St. Forms can be filled out on site or taken home, filled out and returned by Wednesday, Nov. 25. The forms include spaces to list a child’s name, address, age, gender and interests.
Jacobs said the Giving Christmas Tree will be in the municipal building lobby on Monday, Nov. 30, adorned with tags, each noting a registered child’s age, gender and interests. Names and addresses will not be included.
People wishing to donate gifts can select a tag from the tree, purchase a gift of any price and return it for wrapping at the Police Division by Dec. 18.
“We can take care of the wrapping,” Jacobs said.
Last year, the project provided 84 children from 34 families with gifts.
Jacobs noted that people entering the municipal building must do so at the South Main Street entrance and must be masked. People also can enter the first set of doors at the East Market Street entrance if they wish to use the phone there to contact the Police Division’s dispatch to ask that an officer meet them just inside the first set of doors.
For more information, Jacobs can be contacted at the Urbana Police Division, 937-652-4350.
Kathy Fox can be reached at 937-652-1331, ext. 1773.