By Lucas Vader

Staff Writer

While most holiday traditions have seen drastic changes this year, Heather McGovern, lead organizer of the yearly Surface Creek Angel Giving Tree program, said that the program is running now, full steam ahead.

The Angel Tree itself can be found in the Cedaredge Foodtown next to the customer service desk.

“We have about 27 families with about 78 kids,” McGovern said. “Usually we have about 140 kids so I think we’ll probably still get some more of these in.”

McGovern recalls that she and her mother, Peggy Bathie, have been in charge of the annual Angel Giving Tree for four years now, since they took it over from accounting office Blair and Associates, which took it over from someone else years before that. There’s no official company backing anymore, but they receive good donations from outside sources for shopping expenses. McGovern noted the Cedar Mesa Club and New Hope Church as strong donors.

The only minor changes to the annual gift drive for families in need this year are actually unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic and have more to do with adjusting some things based off past years.

That change is that, instead of noting information on clothing sizes and shoes, the individual tags on the tree note “wants, needs, wears and reads,” according to McGovern. Since clothing sizes are tricky and inconsistent among items and brands.

“And people didn’t always but them for the ages they were supposed to buy,” McGovern said. Therefore, the tags share the demographics of the child, including age and gender, and the instructions further share that the “want” is the children’s fun wish for Christmas, the “need” can be anything from socks to coats, or something necessary, the “wear” asks for pajamas this year and indicates the size on the tag, according to McGovern, and the “read” allows them to ask for a book.

Nevertheless the changes, the collection and distribution of the Giving Tree applications, tags and gifts still works the same.

“So what happens is we give out applications to the middle school and elementary school families and they return them to me, and I make the time to put them on the tree,” McGovern said. “So then people will come and take the little tags off the tree and they will buy for the individual’s child.”

McGovern makes the tags based on the “wants, needs, wears and reads” questionnaire included on the applicants for the receiving families in need.

A set of deadlines is attached to the Angel Giving Tree Project, McGovern said, and that encompasses a deadline of Dec. 9 for people to get their gifts to her for wrapping. That deadline has already been reached, but McGovern said there are always late applications that come in.

“We try to get all the gifts delivered by the 20th,” McGovern said. She didn’t state a deadline for families in need to turn in applications, but said, “It’s already up but we don’t turn anybody down. In the past, we’ve always found some way to fill it. If we get one on Dec. 12, we’re probably going to do whatever we can to fill it.”

In all, McGovern said that, after the deadline, they just can’t guarantee that the wish will be filled, but they will do their best to get it done.

Until then, the Angel Giving Tree is stationed by the customer service desk at the Cedaredge Foodtown. Any more tags that appear on it are up for community members to grab.

Anyone with further questions on the Giving Tree, or anyone who needs to turn in gifts can call McGovern at 970-778-0366.

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