Giving Tree yields 3,800 presents for Silver Key

       Some 2,000 elderly people are receiving one or more Christmas presents this year through the annual Giving Tree program by Silver Key Senior Services.
       The Westside-based non-profit agency received 3,800 presents in all from members of the community, in response to requests that had been placed on Girl Scout-made ornaments hanging on indoor Christmas trees around town.
       “It was such a great response, it's amazing,” said Lori Nolen, Silver Key development director. “Cars with presents would pull up in front, and all the staff would go out and help unload.”
       In addition, Silver Key garnered $2,600 in donations for the project from its Virtual Giving Tree website. It was the first year for that online effort.
       No income qualifying is required for Giving Tree recipients. However, Nolen explained, “most of our clients are at or below the poverty level.”
       In addition to individual citizens, numerous local businesses and government entities pitched in to buy many of the gifts, she said.
       The actual number of presents was more than could be handed out. Dave Shaffer, a Silver Key staffer who headed up the Giving Tree effort, said that about 500 of the presents will be held back for occasions during the year when case workers might feel presents for clients are in order.
       The 3,800 gifts far exceeded the 2,200 of last year. A big reason for that was that in past years, Silver Key clients were asked to make up their own wish lists, and the wide range of requests was not always easy to process for a staff including hundreds of volunteers. This year, individual requests weren't sought. Instead, a committee from the agency came up with a list of “common gifts” that seniors can typically use (such as robes or radios or automatic jar openers), and this streamlined the process, Nolen said.
       The new approach also is in keeping with the overall Giving Tree spirit toward Silver Key's seniors, she said - “basically a gesture that, you know what, we care about you, that somebody is thinking about you.”
       The Giving Tree program was started in 1979 by former Silver Key chief executive officer Mikki Kraushaar, who was with the agency from 1971-2004.

Westside Pioneer article