Once again, the Theta Omega Chapter of ESA has stepped forward to give Santa some much-needed assistance right here in Vermillion. Reaching out to low-income families currently receiving public assistance, the members will work tirelessly to make Christmas merry and bright for local children and teens.
Earleen Varns (605-638-0966) agreed to serve as chairperson for this worthwhile project. Earleen said, "I absolutely love this role! Helping community members who need a boost during the holiday season is such satisfying work; it warms my heart."
She encouraged Clay County families who might qualify to obtain the relevant forms through Head Start, Food Pantry, Public Health, or Social Services.
This year, nine ESA Giving Trees will be decorated with gift tags for hopeful children. These trees will be set up during Thanksgiving weekend at the following locations: Hy-Vee, Nook 'n Cranny/Never Never Land, Jones' Food Center, Vermillion Public Library, Wal-Mart, Market Street Café, Sanford Hospital, USD North Complex, and Whimps.
Interested community members may select a gift tag, shop for that child (hand crafted gifts are welcome, too), attach the ESA gift tag, and return present(s) to any of the locations listed above. If anyone prefers to make a monetary donation, such envelopes will be available. In mid-December, the ESA elves will collect, organize, package, and distribute the gifts to local families in need.
Over the years, this Giving Tree Project has sparked the interest of a number of hospitality-minded groups; the USD Foundation provides one example. Envisioning the delighted smiles of children on Christmas morning, staff members decided to get involved last year; they have graciously renewed their pledge of participation for this year. Needless to say, any and all willing partners for the Giving Tree are welcome; Chairperson Earleen Varns is the contact.
The ESA members (aka Santa's Helpers) agree that this meaningful yuletide endeavor represents a huge collaboration. They attribute the continued success of the Giving Tree to countless community members, organizations, and businesses and acknowledge their collective contributions with gratitude. As Patty Rarick – past president of the Theta Omega Chapter – surmised, "Vermillion is a caring, generous community; this is one of the reasons why my family and I love it so much."