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No Title 2481

Supplement to “Giving Hearts”

For the past 16 years, residents of Beattyville have seen the “Tree of Love” go up at Three Forks Tradition, the local newspaper office, the first week of November. For about a decade—since taking over the program—Linda Smith and Sherry Lanham have been the ones trimming the tree.

The two women hang 125 to 150 gift tags from the tree’s branches; each tag includes a child’s clothing sizes and the coveted toys on their wish list, information gleaned from the Family Resource Center, where Lanham is the director.

“Most people know this is the only Christmas the children will have and will get a couple outfits and several toys for the child on their tag,” says Linda Smith, owner and advertising director at Three Forks Tradition. In addition to these items, stockings are filled for the children and then everything is put into decorated bags, beribboned baskets, and boxes that are wrapped and stacked and ready for delivery. Smith says the volunteers truly get into the spirit of the program and try to outdo each other in packing their holiday parcels.

Smith’s husband, Bob, helps out by writing an article about the program for the newspaper each year, which never fails to help raise needed funds.

Once the gifts are brought to the newspaper office, Smith and Lanham make sure each child is well provided for and supplement where necessary. Additionally, there are usually 25 to 30 or so names left on the tree.

“For these children—and the ones who didn’t get enough—we solicit funds from the community and then go shopping,” says Smith. “Every year we’re scared to death that we won’t be able to help all the children, but every year someone always comes through with the money we need.”

Assured that each child has enough to tuck beneath their Christmas tree, Lanham begins making deliveries in mid-December—usually when the children are in school.

“I don’t know the names of the individual kids,” says Smith, “but I’ve been in the background when some of those kids have come in to the office. I heard one say, ‘I wouldn’t have had Christmas if not for this.’ Grandparents trying to raise their grandchildren tell you what it means to them.

“It’s a wonderful feeling.”

If you would like to give to Tree of Love project, contact:

Tree of Love
Attn: Linda Smith
87 Main Street
Beattyville, KY 41311

(606) 464-2888

To read the Kentucky Living December 2010 feature that goes along with this supplement, go to Giving Hearts.

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