If you're having a tough holiday season, the volunteers and donors running City Hall's giving tree are working to come to your aid.
Linda Plays at Mayor Leo Fontaine's office, who is running the program, said it starts every year with donations form the Verizon Pioneer Women, a group of Verizon retirees. The group contacted City Hall a few years ago to see if there was a list of people who needed help during the holidays, Plays said.
Plays suggested combining the retirees' efforts with city employees to help people receiving services from Connecting Children & Families, Harvest Community Church, Family Resources and Sojourner House.
The agencies provide a list of local families' needs for the holidays, Plays said, and she sends out an email to City Hall employees and the retirees. When the City Hall tree goes up on the third floor in Harris Hall, the donors place the items from the list on or under the tree for the families.
Items needed this year include toiletries, hats, gloves and mittens. The toiletries are important, Plays said, because many women served by local shelters are forced to leave their homes on the spur of the moment, and don't get an opportunity to take anything with them.
Hats and gloves are also given to men in local shelters, Plays said. She said Harvest Community Church Pastor Steve Bacon tells her there's a "tremendous need" among homeless men there for warm hats and gloves, particularly when they're standing outside the church waiting for it to open for the day. Women and kids are often first on donors' minds, Plays said, but homeless men need help too. "There's a real need for the man items," Plays said.
Anyone who's in need this holiday can give Plays a call at 401-767-9205. "If we can help them, we certainly will," she said.