Even after 20-plus years doing the Wish Tree for the Woman’s Club of Moorestown, Janet McCourt and Cathy Southwick never cease to be amazed at the generosity of others.
The trees—set up at three locations in the area: Boscov’s at the Moorestown Mall, Roma Bank in Mount Laurel, and at the —are decorated with 505 gift tags between them this year, all containing gift requests from kids across Burlington County.
And McCourt and Southwick know not one of them will go unfulfilled.
“The first year we did it, I noticed that there were people from 20 different towns (taking tags),” said club treasurer Southwick, who’s organized the event for the last 22/23 years. “Last year, we had a man from Moorestown who said, ‘If you have any (tags) left, I’ll take them.' … Somebody always comes up with what we need at the last minute.”
She said some people will take a dozen tags. Parents come in with their kids and their kids will grab one, McCourt said. Seasonal mall employees will come by, grab a tag, and say, “‘I’ll be back pay day and take another,’” said Southwick. “It’s just so heartwarming.”
Gift requests include the usual tea sets, CD players, boom boxes and action figures, along with several children who are simply asking for warm winter clothing—gloves, hats, scarves. The Woman’s Club gets the names from Burlington County’s Office of Family and Community Services, which distributes the gifts right around Christmas.
Southwick said the club often receives letters from many of the families their donations have helped and it’s almost always the same story: “‘We would not have had Christmas without this’ … ‘Christmas wouldn’t have been anything without this gift.’”
So on your next trip to the mall or to the library, take a second, grab a tag, and be one (or more) child’s own personal Santa Claus. Gifts must be turned in, unwrapped, with the numbered tag by Dec. 18 to any of the wish tree locations.
“It’s a wonderful beginning to the season,” said McCourt. “We know we’re helping a lot of families and putting a smile on that child’s face when they come down Christmas morning. That means a lot.”
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