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Wish lists still waiting to be filled on Tree of Names

November 28, 2018

SCOTTSBLUFF — The 37th annual Gift of Love program is about to conclude, but several children’s Christmas wish lists still hang from the trees at the Scottsbluff and Gering First State Bank branch locations.

First State Bank marketing director Becca Tompkins estimates between 30 to 50 kids’ wish lists are still on the trees as the program enters its final week. Compared to previous years, the number of names is high. Last year, 325 names hung on the trees, but this year, there are 349 children asking for Christmas gifts.

“The need is definitely there,” said Tompkins. “The community support of this program has been great and we are asking for additional help this year.”

With the holiday season quickly approaching, the deadline to drop off gifts is Dec. 5 before the bank closes at 4:30 p.m. The items should be dropped off unwrapped.

Aside from the gifts, the community can also provide monetary donations, which helps First State Bank, Valley Christian Neighbors in Need and Knights of Columbus to purchase the remaining gifts, gift wrap, and holiday food baskets for families. The Knights of Columbus will pick up the items from First State Bank after Dec. 5 and wrap the items before they are distributed to the families.

“We just want to make sure they have a good holiday,” she said.

The children range from birth to 15 years old and have wish lists that include practical items like shirts, coats, pants, and shoes as well as teddy bears, sports items, art supplies, Shopkins, and Legos. The Tree of Names is the focal point of the program to ensure children have a good holiday.

Groups and businesses can also purchase gifts for children’s wish lists to cut down on the individual cost while providing the child with joy on Christmas day.

The Gift of Love program has other programs the community can get involved in throughout the holidays from the Canned Food Collection and Truck of Love to Coats 4 Kids and Jingle Jog.

The Canned Food Collection challenges local schools to help collect non-perishable food items. During last year’s event, there were 10,000 pounds of food collected. The Valley Christian Neighbors in Need puts together a holiday food basket for families following the pick up on Nov. 30.

“The longevity of programs is just amazing in our community and this is no exception,” Tompkins said. “The only reason that our program can be 37 years old is because of the love and generosity of the people in our community.”

The Coats 4 Kids asks the community to drop off new coats at either branch location between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31. The Shriners Club and First State Bank partner and have offered around 100 coats in the past toward the cause. The coats are given to CAPWN to distribute.

Tompkins shared how the need is so much greater and while numerous kids include a coat on the wish list, a coat is more than an accessory, it is something they need to stay warm.

Another upcoming event the community is invited to is the annual Jingle Jog. The event will be this Saturday, Dec. 1 at 2 p.m. The community is invited to get their jingle on at the YMCA and First State Bank Jingle Jog fun run and walk. The three-mile race is approved by Mrs. Claus and will excite the elf in everyone. The all-day event begins at Santa’s Village in Gering from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and continues after the Jingle Jog with Jingle All the Way at the Midwest Theater at 4 p.m.

The culminating event for the program is the Truck of Love. This year’s Truck of Love will be in the First State Bank parking lot on Saturday, Dec. 8 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. A Nebraska Transport company Truck will be filled with new and gently used toys, an Army National Guard Hummer will be filled with non-perishable food items, and a Lakota Lutheran van will be stuffed with new and gently used coats.

“This just finishes out our Gift of Love program,” said Tompkins. “If someone wants to donate gently used toys and also donate coats, they can drop them off in our truck that day.”

Tompkins said the truck helps them even the gifts out to all the children in those families, so everyone has a good holiday. They will also be accepting non-perishable food items and monetary donations on Dec. 8.

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