Video: Spirit of giving grows at Walter Reed

By Founder, The Gift Tree
updated 12/22/2010 7:09:48 PM ET 2010-12-23T00:09:48

Last year, while walking the halls of Walter Reed with my husband, an Army physician who is now deployed in Afghanistan, it occurred to me that the wounded warriors are given many gifts from a variety of organizations during the holidays, but their children are often forgotten. 

I went home and searched online for any type of organization or service that offered gifts or new items to children of parents stationed at Walter Reed, but I found nothing. I proposed to The Walter Reed Auxiliary board that we find out what these children needed.

The idea for The Gift Tree was there, and it won approval, but we didn’t have a plan. With my husband’s help, we came up with a system: A secure, form was created on Google Docs for applicants to fill out their children’s wants/needs; wish list items would have to either promote family interaction, physical activity or creativity; an online registry was created at Target.com and Amazon.com. We go through each application and add their items to the registry. The items and gift cards then come directly to us, and we go online or to the store to pick out the specified items for the children need/want. We then wrap all of the gifts and put all of the gifts for each child into the box, which the parent can pick up and hide until Christmas!

The program requires a lot of work and organization, but at the end of the Holiday season, it’s worth every minute. Our volunteers, who help with gift-wrapping, save us from having to stay up all hours of the night to meet our Christmas morning deadline. Generous donations have been pouring in from the entire community--without the community’s involvement, this project would never been possible.

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