The Holiday Helper Tree, Georgia Southern University’s annual holiday tradition where the campus community joins together to provide gifts to local organizations, is returning for its 28th year beginning Nov. 1.
Sponsored by the Office of Leadership and Community Engagement (OLCE), the Holiday Helper Tree dons tags with a gift wish from someone in the community that can be pulled by a faculty, staff, student or community member.Gifts are delivered directly to the partner agencies who then wrap and distribute the gifts.
“Holiday Helper Tree is one of the longest-standing holiday traditions at Georgia Southern,” said Emily Tanner, community engagement coordinator for OLCE. “This is another way we care for our neighbors in a way that may seem small, but to some of our fellow citizens, is actually very big.”
New this year, the Holiday Helper Tree will extend its branches to the Armstrong Campus. Last year, due to the pandemic, OLCE created a virtual tree for the Georgia Southern community to continue the tradition. With such overwhelming feedback, OLCE decided to place a physical tree on the Armstrong Campus while continuing the virtual format, said Tanner.
“Since the tags are now all loaded onto the virtual tree, the tags on the physical trees will include QR codes that will take you to the virtual tree to pull a tag,” Tanner said. “However, we feel that having the tree on campus is a great symbol and reminder of the spirit of giving that the Holiday Helper Tree promotes as we enter into the holiday season.”
Tanner added the greater community can join in the spirit of giving this year virtually.
“Another update to the virtual tree this year will be access extended to the community-at-large,” said Tanner. “Last year, in order to access the tree, you had to have a Georgia Southern email account. This year, anyone can create an account and access the tree with ease.”
OLCE is also accepting gift-wrapping supplies this year to assist the agencies in their efforts to wrap the gifts before delivery.
“Anyone who would like to donate gift-wrapping supplies can bring them to the kickoff events or can drop it off at the Office of Leadership and Community Engagement on either campus throughout the month of November,” Tanner added.
OLCE will host kickoff events for the Holiday Helper Tree on the Statesboro Campus on Nov. 1, from 4 to 5 p.m. in the Russell Union, and on the Armstrong Campus on Nov. 2, from 3 to 4 p.m. in the Student Union.