Friends of Bethany’s Eileen Dudman and Connie Cartwright were among the volunteers who decorated the Giving Tree inside Value Drug Mart last week.

The Giving Tree returns to Sylvan Lake

Members of the community are being given the opportunity to make Christmas a little bit extra special for residents of Bethany

Members of the community are being given the opportunity to make Christmas a little bit extra special for residents of Bethany Sylvan Lake.

The Giving Tree is now up at the Sylvan Lake Value Drug Mart and bears 61 decorative gift tags — each one listing items sought by a resident of the care centre.

Shoppers are encouraged to take one of the tags and purchase the ‘wish list’ items marked on it, before dropping them off at Bethany.

This year marks the fourth year the tree has been put up, and each year it proves vastly popular among generous Sylvan Lake residents, said Eileen Dudman of Friends of Bethany, the volunteer group that oversees the initiative.

“Our idea is to give the community an opportunity to become involved in our seniors’ lives at Christmas time,” she said. “That’s why we call it the Giving Tree.”

As well as volunteering with Friends of Bethany, Dudman also works at Bethany, and often works Christmas morning. That gives her a chance to witness firsthand the joy of residents as they open their community-provided gifts.

“Their response is wonderful,” she said. “I wish we could all be there to see it.”

Volunteer Connie Cartwright said feedback from the community has been similarly positive, with many people frequently asking her throughout the year when the tree will return.

She’s hoping all of the tags will be gone before the mid-December deadline, a feat that was accomplished for the first time last year.

Gifts listed on the tags cost between $15 and $20, and must be brought to Bethany (4700 47 Ave.) during business hours before Dec. 12. They must also be unwrapped and be accompanied by the gift tag from the tree.

But that’s not the only way members of the community can get involved. Friends of Bethany are asking people to consider gifting their time to residents of the care centre by simply visiting with them, helping with recreational activities and special events or providing entertainment.

Information on volunteering is available by contacting Bethany volunteer co-ordinator Sheila Klein at 403-887-7741.