Christmas comes to the less fortunate children of Ames


Katy Klopfenstein/Iowa State Daily

Lindsay Richmond, freshman in animal science, is one of the many students that is donating to the less fortunate children of Ames. YWCA and the Faculty Senate are coming together to help less fortunate children in Ames receive Christmas gifts. The tree in LeBaron is empty with the giving season around the corner. 

Emelie Knobloch

An Ames girl, only 10 years old, asked for a scarf, hat and glove set for Christmas. Because an ISU student or faculty member picked up the cardboard ornament hanging on a Christmas tree, she will get it. 

This year marks the 15th annual Giving Tree program hosted by YWCA Ames-ISU and the Faculty Senate at Iowa State. 

“We work with the Ames School District’s counselors,” said Angela Merrick, executive director of the YWCA Ames-ISU. “They provide us with wish lists of about 100 homeless children in Ames.”

Merrick said the Giving Tree program provides these children with six gifts each.

Sherri Angstrom, secretary for the senate, said the program has grown significantly in the 15 years it has been operating.

“The first year of the program, we did just a few gifts per child,” Angstrom said. “The program started with just 30 children involved and now it is up to 100 children.”

Angstrom said the program was initially started when the YMCA director, at the time, came to the faculty senate president where they agreed to partner together.

Three years ago, the YMCA closed down and the YWCA Ames-ISU agreed to keep the program going, partnered with the senate as the YMCA was.

The YWCA is a multicultural women’s organization. The senate represents the general faculty and shares governance of the university with the administration, according to their website.

Angstrom said the total amount of gifts varies but is expected to be at least 600 gifts.

“The program works by taking a wish list off one of the trees around campus,” Merrick said. “However, they were gone within the first week this year.”

Several students have also gotten involved in the Giving Tree program in the past few years.

“I gave to the Giving Tree last year,” said Kayla Carpenter, junior in child, adult and family services.”

Carpenter said the process was very easy and didn’t take a lot of extra time.

“It was pretty simple,” Carpenter said. “I just grabbed a card from the tree in MacKay, ran to Target to buy the presents and brought them to Hamilton Hall.”

Carpenter said she was very familiar with this type of program because of the ‘Angel Tree’ at her church back home.

“I got involved because I have a very similar program back home at my church called the angel tree,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter said she has seen the kind of difference it makes to families that are caught in a tough situation.

“[The angel tree] helped the parents that couldn’t afford to give their children Christmas presents,” Carpenter said. “That would be a pretty horrible situation to be in.” 

Carpenter said she knew of a family back home whose father was overseas with the military.

“The family was struggling,” Carpenter said. “The angel tree made a huge difference for them that year.” 

Carpenter said ISU students and faculty should try to participate if they can because it is easy to do and means a lot to children involved.

“You could see how happy the kids were when they were describing what they got from Santa that year,” Carpenter said. 

The trees are placed around campus around Nov. 16 each year.

Merrick said students could still get involved in the program by dropping off toilet paper, detergent and other toiletry items at one of the assigned locations.

“There is an incredible amount of generosity around campus,” Merrick said.

For students that selected a wish list or want to be involved by giving toiletry items, they may drop off the item, unwrapped, to one of the assigned locations by Dec. 3.

The assigned locations include 103 Lab of Mechanics, 2101 Agronomy Hall, the Christmas tree in Veterinary Medicine, 101 Hamilton Hall or 306 MacKay Hall.

Cash donations are also accepted. Cash or checks, made payable to YWCA Ames-ISU, can be delivered to the Y’s office at C1102A Knapp-Storms Commons.

For additional information about the Giving Tree program, you may contact the YWCA at 515-294-1663.