Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Mary Ellen Dewey
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Collecting gifts for Tree of Hope 2019


October 31, 2019

Since 1990 the aviation community has been collecting and distributing toys to hospitals across Minnesota. It is difficult for a child to be hospitalized anytime, but more so over the holidays. As one hospital spokesperson stated, “these gifts make it possible to create a more comforting and more comfortable environment for our young patients. These gifts will help brighten the lives of our hospitalized children.”

The Tree of Hope is a volunteer effort by Minnesota pilots to collect and distribute Christmas gifts for seriously ill hospitalized children. This volunteer collection was started with the help of the Minnesota Flyer magazine’s editor Richard Coffey in 1990 with the idea that many terminally ill children and their families needed to know that others were thinking of them. They needed hope for a cure, hope for getting better and hope for the future, no matter how short. Tree of Hope is the only organization that consistently supplies toys to hospitals over the holidays.

The gifts are distributed to all 38 Minnesota pediatric units, two Wisconsin hospitals, two Catholic Charities orphanages, and five Ronald McDonald Houses. The child may be a transplant patient, cancer patient, surgical patient or a child who has a serious injury requiring him or her to be in the hospital. The collection will provide thousands of gifts for infants and children through 18 years of age. In the Sandstone area, caring people may bring an unwrapped new present to the Pine County Courier office. Toys can also be dropped off at the Moose Lake Star Gazette office, the Askov American office or the Hinckley News office.

On Saturday, Dec. 7, 9 a.m.–1 p.m., the gifts will be taken to the St. Cloud Regional Airport (STC) Hangar H2 where volunteers will label and package the gifts to be delivered to children in Minnesota. There are no administrative costs. Tree of Hope is an all-volunteer organization, so all the money goes directly to toys for the children. Transportation of the gifts is done by volunteers. Anyone wishing to volunteer in labeling and packaging the gifts for the flights to the hospitals can go to St. Cloud Regional Airport on Saturday, December 7. Snow date is Sunday Dec. 8.

Some of the toys that a child can use while they are in the hospital are: board games, hand-held games, small cars and trucks, books, dolls, crafts, crayons and coloring books. The older child might like a chess game, iTunes cards, gift cards, jewelry, cosmetics, magnetic chess and checker games. They especially appreciate hand-made items like hats and scarves or lap quilts. Anything that will bring a smile to a young person’s face is welcome.

Last year the Tree of Hope delivered toys to 38 hospitals and five Ronald McDonald houses across Minnesota – from Duluth to Rochester to Fergus Falls. Tree of Hope is supported by the aviation community, Minnesota Experimental Aircraft Association Chapters, Minnesota Chapter of Ninety-Nines Inc., Minnesota flying clubs, Zuhrah Shrine Flyers, International Organization of Women Pilots, Minnesota Pilots Association and individuals and families interested in aviation.

If anyone is interested in participating in this year’s collections and has any questions, please contact Mary Ellen Dewey at the Courier, 320-245-2368.

Go to the Tree of Hope website for more details or to donate by credit card or PayPal Toys will be purchased with any money donated. Monetary donations can be made all year long. Checks, made out to Tree of Hope, can be mailed to Tree of Hope, c/o Elaine Morrow, 1172 Willowbrook Circle, Delano MN 55328-4400. Their Facebook site is Tree of Hope is a 501(c)3 charitable organization.

The Courier collects toys year round for this program. Help put a smile on a little face.


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