Family Giving Tree goes online

October 30, 2020 — by Nidhi Mathihalli

Three years ago, now senior class president Lauren Tan glanced at the Christmas tree in the middle of the office, looking over the 300 presents. This year, restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic mean these presents will be displayed on the Giving Tree website instead of in the office.

The Giving Tree is an extension of the Family Giving Tree Drive, a local organization that donates gifts and presents to those in need. For the past four years, the Class of 2021 has been the main organizer of the event.

“It had been happening even before our grade was in high school, but it wasn’t very predominant,” Tan said. “But we did it in our freshman year, and we were really successful, raising over 350 presents. So ever since then, our grade mainly has been helping with this event.”

In past years, a tree was set up in the main office with tags hanging off the branches containing the name of the present, recipient’s age and name and other relevant information. Students would then pick up a tag and buy the corresponding present, leaving the gift under the tree. After a month, the gifts would be taken to the Family Giving Tree warehouse by class officers.

For senior class vice president Aliza Zaman, the delivering of gifts is her favorite part of the fundraiser. She enjoys seeing all the presents piled up before going to the warehouse. 

“It feels really good to see what we accomplished,” Zaman said. “And it is super exciting that we have the highest gifts donated rate for schools in our area!”

These gifts are then delivered to children in need by the main organization, specifically to those located in the South Bay, East Bay, North Bay and the San Francisco Peninsula.

However, this year the process will be different. Instead of setting up a tree and making tags, the senior class is moving the drive online. Participants will sign up to buy a present through the Giving Tree website and pay the price of the gift. Volunteers will use that money to buy the present online and deliver it directly to the families. 

“We hope that more people will buy presents this time,” said Tan. “It is much easier than before, and since we usually have around 300 people participate, we are hoping we can get to at least that number or more.”

The present drive is set to last between early November to Jan. 15, which gives students more time than in previous years to participate. Class officers also hope to boost turnout by posting reminders on Instagram and Facebook of how and when to partake in this event. 

“It’s really fun and it’s for a good cause,” said senior Katie Chen, who has donated to the Giving Tree for the past three years and plans on donating this year as well. “It’s also a really positive thing because the gifts that we donate are given to children who are less privileged than us and it gives us the opportunity to help make their Christmas a little better.”


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