Perham's Giving Tree tradition holds strong in the year of COVID

For the 25th year, Perham's Giving Tree is holding its own as the generosity of the community supports the program for children in need at Christmas.

The Giving Tree is being put on for the 25th year by Lisa and Steve Sheets, with the help of Perham’s Ministerial Group and the Perham Area Chamber of Commerce, will be helping local families in need give their children a good Christmas again this year.

The Giving Tree is at the In Their Own Words Veterans Museum with the ITOW open extra hours to accommodate the tree, Shirly Davidson, from the ITOW, said.

Davidson said the museum will be open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Thursdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Davidson said applications are still being taken until Wednesday, Dec. 9.

Steve Sheets said those appealing can get an application from the ITOW, fill it out, and return it to the museum.


Lisa then processes the applications, places the requested gifts for the children onto a card, and then the cards are placed on the tree for the community to pick up, Steve Sheets said.

As of Dec. 4, about 97 cards had already been placed on the tree. “Many of them have been taken off and we’re still getting new cards,” Steve Sheets said.

Davidson said this year, many cards have been taken as soon as they hit the tree.

Those taking cards off the tree to fill should return the gifts to the ITOW no later than Dec. 18, as the gifts need to be shorted by family, bagged, and put out on the tables, Steve Sheets said.

“The gifts will be handed out the 21st of December from 9 to 5 at the ITOW,” Steve Sheets said.

The distribution on Dec. 21, will be following social distancing guidelines and will require mask-wearing inside of the museum, Steve Sheets said. He said there cannot be long lines of people this year and will have to be spread out throughout the day. However, they have not had problems with large amounts of people coming in all at once.

“It’s worked quite well but we’re going to be very very careful with COVID,” Steve Sheets said. "We will be using all the rules and regulations that were put out there for COVID.”

“This year is going to be hard on everyone and it’s going to be even harder on those families in need. So we felt that we really needed to go ahead with it and be very careful,” Steve Sheets said. “Our other concern was whether the public would come to get cards off the tree since so many people are staying sheltered.”


Those who do not want to fill cards but would like to support the Giving Tree can donate funds towards the project. Steve Sheets said Lisa takes all the cards that were not filled and uses the funds donated to the project to fill those cards.

Steve Sheets extends his thanks to his wife Lisa Sheets, for organizing the program each year, the Ministerial Group, the Chamber of Commerce, Davidson and the volunteers at the ITOW, and the generosity of the community for helping to make the GIving Tree possible each year.

“Keep supporting it, wear a mask, and hopefully the children in need will have a gift under the tree for Christmas,” Steve Sheets said.

To help support the Giving Tree

Call the ITOW at 218-346-7678 or visit them at 805 W. Main St., Perham

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