The Giving Tree Stands Tall Thanks to St. Matthew's Parish

Meet a local church that’s redefined Christmas gift-giving for dozens of grateful Wellspring families. Back in 2001, the congregation of St. Matthew's Parish in Shoreline decided they wanted to extend their neighborhood by putting a smile on the faces of children, mothers and fathers come holiday time. St. Matthew had already been generously supporting Wellspring Family Services through an annual donation that allowed staff to provide outreach and therapeutic services to families in their homes.

The church did something creative and new. They added to their generosity by creating a Giving Tree in their sanctuary, in effect saying “yes” to gift lists from Wellspring Family Services and other north-end agencies serving low-income families.

Mary Malhoit, Wellspring’s Director of Clinical and Training Services and liaison with St. Matthew, explains: “There certainly were other organizations who did holiday drives, with volunteers ‘adopting’ families and showing up at their doorsteps with gifts. What’s unique about the people of St. Matthew Parish was that they realized early on that what mattered wasn’t what the congregation received - It’s all about the church partnering with Wellspring so that parents can freely choose the toys and other delights they know their children will like.”

This December marks the 15th consecutive year St. Matthew parishioners will donate a bounty of gift items, which will be gratefully received by Wellspring. Dozens of Wellspring parents will eagerly “shop” at Wellspring’s Holiday Toy Room and choose the gift that’s just right for their child.

For their creative, sustained generosity St. Matthew Parish is the recipient of Wellspring’s 2016 Community Partner Award.

As families visit the Holiday Toy Room, longtime St. Matthew Parish members Joanne and Jim Bowen will be smiling from up north. It’s their gift of organization, legwork and spirited generosity that has allowed the annual tradition of the Giving Tree to stand tall.