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Pick-a-Tree Star helps area families in need

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By Alex Wimsatt

    MOUNT WASHINGTON - For nearly a quarter of a century the folks at Peoples Bank Mount Washington have helped make Christmas a little brighter for countless local children in need through their annual Pick-A-Tree Star program.
    This year over 300 area elementary and middle school students are expected to receive clothes and toys for Christmas through the community effort.
    And it is truly a community effort.
    Dozens of individuals and organizations are collaborating with Peoples Bank to ensure every child in need has a merry Christmas.
    One of those organizations is the Mountain City Cruisers car club.
    Last month the car club held a toy cruise, collecting over 200 toys, which they recently delivered to Peoples Bank for distribution.
    In addition to donating the toys, they sponsored seven children.
    “It’s a great program,” said Ernest Jones of the Mountain City Cruisers.  “We’re just trying to do our part to help out.”
    To ensure donated items get to the children who need them, Family Resource Center coordinators and counselors at Mount Washington, Old Mill, Pleasant Grove and Crossroads Elementary Schools and Mount Washington and Eastside Middle Schools have been contacting families on behalf of Peoples Bank to find needs.
    The bank accepts donations and gets sponsors for children with no knowledge of who will receive them. Only the schools know who the items will go to.
    Before sending the items to the schools, Peoples Bank employees volunteer their time to gather donations and sort them. 
     Old Mill/Crossroads Family Resource Center coordinator Leigh Ann Lowery has been involved with the Pick-A-Tree Star program for the past 10 years, helping to make sure every child in need has something under the tree.
    “It brings me joy to know that our children are going to have a good Christmas,” she said. “All kids need clothes for school, so it meets a basic need. And, every child deserves a toy.”
    Lowery said the program benefitted not only the children who receive the gifts, but the parents who might not have otherwise been able to provide for their children.
    She also said the program gave schools the chance to get to know families so they can connect them to other helpful programs.
    “As family resource centers, it’s our responsibility to meet the needs of our families,” she said.
    In the 23 years Peoples Bank has facilitated the Pick-A-Tree Star program every child on the schools’ annual lists have been sponsored.
    Last year 260 kids were sponsored and this year Peoples Bank is attempting to sponsor 314 children.  With less than a week remaining 75 children are still without sponsorship.
    Donations will be accepted until Friday, Dec. 10. You can shop for your child of choice or give monetary donations and Peoples Bank employees will do the shopping for you.
    For more information call Peoples Bank Mount Washington at (502) 955-6206.