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By Andi Bourne
Pathfinder 

A year of change and new blessings

The Annual Giving Tree

 

December 26, 2019

Andi Bourne, Pathfinder

Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church members Pat DeLeo (left) and Elder Spike Stone wrapping presents Wednesday, Dec. 18 in preparation for the gifts to be picked up. Stone and Bruce Vasko were two men from the congregation that stepped in to help in different roles with the Giving Tree after the project was expanded from just a ladies project. Pastor Carrie Benton said having so many new people from the congregation help was such a blessing. Benton added the amount of work required for the Giving Tree and the need in the community was very eye opening for many who had never been involved.

SEELEY LAKE – While the community may not have noticed any change with the annual Giving Tree that has been sponsored by the women of Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church for decades, this year was a year of transition. Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church Pastor Reverend Carrie Benton said God made a way. Thanks to the community's generosity, the annual Giving Tree provided 123 gifts to 64 children from 26 families in Seeley Lake.

Since its inception, the Giving Tree has always been a Mountain Lakes Presbyterian women's project. In the past couple of years, two of the main organizers passed away - the most recent was Zella Erickson this past year. Coordinator Marcy Zietz said she couldn't do it without more help with the organization to help make it work.

"Something needed to change. There were lots of conversations and trying to figure out how to make this work. We were concerned that it wasn't going to work," said Benton. "But God made a way when we didn't see a way."

After exploring different options and finally telling the congregation that the Giving Tree may not continue, the church decided to expand the project to the entire membership.

"This really gets to the heart of my congregation," said Benton. "We have been blessed as a congregation. It is such a blessing to be able to give back to families."

Andi Bourne, Pathfinder

Gifts were wrapped and separated by family in the Mountain Lakes Presbyterian sanctuary Wednesday, Dec. 18.

Benton said it has been fun to watch different people step in and help, learning new things and getting excited about this Christmas ministry. She said it has also brought an awareness to her congregants about the need in the community. She added many of the men who stepped into various roles in the project had no idea how much work and coordination it was.

"There are a lot more people involved and that has been a huge blessing," said Benton.

This year the Giving Tree was initially placed in the new addition at the back of Cory's Valley Market. Benton said a lot of tags remained on the tree and they were concerned that they weren't going to be taken. However within a day after the Giving Tree was moved back up front so customers saw it when they walked in, all 115 tags were taken.

Benton said, "We are so thankful for the community support of this outreach ministry to families this time of year."

 

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