The Giving Tree: Sharing a Piece of Your Heart

How do you choose your charity? A good start is to look for a charity that interacts with the community it’s supporting. In 2003 a new charity was established: The Giving Tree.

 The Giving Tree is a charity that focused on making lives better. The charity seeks achieve this by providing some necessities and goods rather than monetary support and spreading it to a large spread of people in Suzhou. They do this with Giving Tree bags, which cost up to 275 RMB, or half-half, where the donor provides a fee, and some items they themselves chose to give. These bags provide winter coats, writing utilities, a toy, and a book.

Concordia’s Giving Tree bags are packed and ready for this year’s distribution.  (image: John H., Concordia Applied Journalism)

Concordia’s Giving Tree bags are packed and ready for this year’s distribution. (image: John H., Concordia Applied Journalism)

 What’s so special about The Giving Tree is how it distances itself from other organizations that help redistribute monetary funds to those in need. It’s small enough to tell the stories of where the money is going, and how it’s making a difference to the people who are the focus of the charity. Although it may not be as drastic an impact as building a new school in the middle of Pakistan, but the interaction that comes about because of these little red bags is what makes this organization so special.

 The Giving Tree is in a sweet spot for charities, where it’s large enough to make a significant impact, but not so big that it disconnects from the community and people that they were looking to help in the first place. It’s a beautiful interaction within our own community. As Concordia student Michael L. put it, “The Giving Tree is like an early Christmas for urban children… Giving them gifts would bring joy to them and the community.”

A growing problem in today’s society, might be characterized as a lack of human interaction, be it on an everyday level or a charitable level. Sure, we have twitter feeds and donation boxes, but it lacks the human touch to it all. It’s easy to PayPal 20 dollars to an account and consider your yearly contribution done, and on a certain level, you did do something to help. However, it lacks the human warmth that charity represents; it’s not about simply giving sometimes, it’s about the impact that’s made from the giving. The objective of a charity, at the end of the day, isn’t to endlessly provide for those who are in need, it’s to give them a helping hand leading to a better permanent situation.

As student Samuel X. responded, “I don't particularly care what is given as long as it helps.” It’s a communal project, that seeks to better the community, and the world as a whole.

For instance, within the Concordia community, there are several charity drives going on, but how much does the student population really know about the charities they're interacting with? To many students, it just ends up as yet another paid free dress day with little consideration for the effect of their giving. Beyond that, even if they really do know what it's for, a lot of the time the charity ends up as something you simply support, but don't really feel the impact for. At worst, it’s just another slide show presentation from the two or three individuals who really are involved with everyone else being spectators. This is the beauty of The Giving Tree, because there's a clear relationship to the donor. There's a clear impact, and thought has to be given, if you're choosing the items to give yourself. 

 With Giving Tree, you’re truly sharing a piece of your heart.

The children celebrate their Giving Tree Christmas!  (image: Shanghai Community International School)

The children celebrate their Giving Tree Christmas! (image: Shanghai Community International School)

Energy is in the air! The children welcome the Giving Tree delegation in 2017.  (image: Abundant Grace)

Energy is in the air! The children welcome the Giving Tree delegation in 2017. (image: Abundant Grace)