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Perham's Giving Tree gifts due back by Dec. 18

The Giving Tree has been helping Perham families for 23 years. If you would like to donate a gift, go to the ITOW Museum at 805 W Main St. to select a card from the tree. Wrapped gifts need to be returned by December 18th. (Kim Brasel /FOCUS).1 / 3
The Giving Tree has been helping Perham families for 23 years. If you would like to donate a gift, go to the ITOW Museum at 805 W Main St. to select a card from the tree. Wrapped gifts need to be returned by December 18th. (Kim Brasel /FOCUS).2 / 3
The Giving Tree is located at the ITOW Museum. Cards can still be picked up, but need to be returned by December 18th. (Kim Brasel /FOCUS).3 / 3

For 23 years The Giving Tree has helped local families in need, and this year it will make sure 167 children in our area have something under their tree Christmas morning.

Sponsored by the Perham Ministerial Association and the Perham Chamber of Commerce, Steve Sheets will tell you the Giving Tree is a community project that he and his wife, Lisa, have been happy to be a part for every one of those 23 years.

"There are a lot of kids and families in need in our community," Sheets said. "The community has been very generous over the years, and every request gets filled."

Families who think they might need some help during the holidays can make requests through the United Way, human services and local churches and schools. All requests are confidential. Sheets said only his wife Lisa sees the applications. She fills out the cards and hangs them on the tree. There are no names on the cards, just a number. Then a community member chooses a card, purchases a gift, and brings it back wrapped. The families come and pick up the gifts on a designated day.

The Giving Tree is located at the ITOW Museum this year, and the wrapped gifts are due back on Dec. 18.

Sheets added that the Perham community has been generous donating money to the program, and in addition to the gift request, they have been able to buy each family a ham.

"It's been a really good program. Last year we helped 56 families. It keeps growing every year," Sheets said.

He felt it was important when his children were young to remind them that Christmas is about giving not getting, and so he and his wife took them along when they went to pick out gifts for the Giving Tree.

Sheets describes how the community has gone above and beyond, donating not just the items listed on the cards, but also gift certificates to different restaurants and movies, blankets and hats and mittens. All things that can be added to the packages.

He said most of the requests are for basic needs — shoes, clothing, baby items — nothing extravagant, and the community support over the years has been great, and it comes full circle.

"We received a nice donation from a young man who told me that when he was a kid he received a gift from the giving tree, and now it was his turn to give back."