By Ian Ferguson
It might seem a little early to start thinking about Christmas, but Cheryll Wydur wants to make sure local families don’t have to skimp on gifts because of their financial situation.
Applications for the Tree of Wishes program will be available at the Blaine school district’s annual school supply distribution on Monday, August 31 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Family Service Center, which is located behind the middle school gym on H Street.
Tree of Wishes is a program that allows people who can afford it to buy holiday presents for less fortunate families. Recipient parents can apply for the program and specify how many children they have and a few gifts that their children might want or need. Closer to the holiday season, those gift suggestions are written on cards that are distributed to businesses around town. Anyone can then pick up a card and go shopping for a family in need.
Wydur said the program helped 291 families last year. Still, some families missed out, so she wants to spread the word early. Children of families applying for Tree of Wishes must live within the boundaries of the Blaine school district, which includes Birch Bay, Blaine and Point Roberts. The children do not have to be enrolled in school.
Wydur hopes to reach more families by handing out applications at the annual school supply distribution. The Family Service Center provides school supplies for low income and homeless youth. Last year the center provided more than 280 low-income students with basic supplies during the first few days of school. The center is still looking for donations of school supplies, including glue sticks, spiral notebooks, pencil pouches, pencil boxes, highlighters, six- or eight-tab dividers for three-ring binders, scissors and backpacks. Any and all school supplies will be accepted. For more information, contact the Family Service Center at 332-0740 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applicants to Tree of Wishes need not be below poverty line or making a certain wage. Indeed, Wydur said many applicants have good paying jobs but are struggling to make ends meet for a large family.
“It’s open to anyone who is struggling financially,” Wydur said. “If you need the help, we’re going to help you.”
Starting August 31, applications for Tree of Wishes will also be available at the Blaine Food Bank, the Blaine Public Library, the Blaine branch of the Boys and Girls Club of Whatcom County and Katie’s Corner consignment shop in Birch Bay. Applications are due back to any of those locations by November 9. For help filling out the form or answers to any questions, call Wydur directly at 332-0069 or 927-9585.