The Giving Tree can be found in the Big Sky Post Office at 55 Meadow Center Dr. #2. Cash donations help fill stockings and provide gifts to children from any last minute Santa letters. Rotarians also make good use of the donations by savvily shopping after-Christmas sales, stocking-up on warm clothes for the following year. PHOTO COURTESY PATTY ALGER

As angels fly from the Christmas Giving Tree

Gifts must be received by Dec. 12

Over a decade ago, a holiday tree became something else in Big Sky – the embodiment of benevolence. With the “Christmas Giving Tree” a Big Sky tradition was born to make the Christmas season a lot more special for struggling families. Now housed in the Big Sky Post Office lobby, angels placed upon the tree help garner Christmas presents for area children. As Big Sky Rotarians Mia Lennon, Patty Alger and Erica Pearlman explained, the presents are separated into three categories: a book, puzzle or game; a toy; and a clothing item, shoes or boots.

For years, the number of angels on the tree hovered around a couple dozen at most. Last year, that tally increased to over 70.

Alger and Pearlman both began their journey with the effort by buying children presents and helping wrap them at the community wrapping party held at Buck’s T-4, a beloved tradition that had to be placed on hold this year due to concerns of COVID-19. They both saw what the program accomplished and stepped-up to contribute more.

“It was actually last year when we helped deliver the toys to the kids that helped solidify it for me. It was such an amazing experience and they were just so excited,” Pearlman said.

Not only are children given presents, but stockings overflowing with goodies and the families are provided a Christmas meal. Roxy’s Market donated almost all the food last year, including hams, fresh vegetables and fruit.

“It does have treats in it, because you can’t have Christmas without treats,” Alger said.

Lennon noted that Alger was the driving force behind revamping the boxes with fresh, wholesome food.

She also pointed-out that all the angels on the tree show that there is real need in Big Sky.

“I think people are generally shocked that there is such a need. Patty (Alger) can attest to this. She’s been filling out the angels with the requests. A lot of them are for normal clothes, warm clothes,” she said.

Alger said many people drive through the picturesque community and have no inkling that there are struggling families.

“These letters (from the children) pull at your heart strings. They are so adorable. They are so cute,” she said.

After the angels are collected from the tree and the presents dropped off at an area bank, the ladies begin sorting, making sure that every child gets their presents, their stocking and their Christmas meal. It is a process that takes hours and the Town Center donated space to make it easier this year.

“I love the generosity of Big Sky,” Alger said. “Once people know about this, they are just lining up.”

Residents rally and are incredibly generous, Lennon explained.

“It’s really quite heartwarming seeing how people come together whether donating money or donating gifts,” she said.

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