Sharp County receives first “giving tree”
After more than a year of planning, Pam Fair and Tena Rosse were finally able to launch the Sharp County Giving Tree project.
The project is simple, yet impactful and involves placing useful items on a tree or pole which those in need may then come and take at will. Items include blankets, gloves, hats, socks, hand warmers, a devotional or Bible and small food items and more.
Both Rosse and Fair said they felt led in the project after seeing a need in their own community.
“For me, I’m a professor at the college and I see students how come in and don’t have scarves or hats and they come in and are cold. They tell me they’ve been sleeping in their cars or a tent of all things and with the frigid cold we’ve had, it weights really heavy on my heart that we have people in our communities that are cold and it’s such a simple thing that we can help with. The need was there and Pam and I have been talking about it,” Rosse said.
Although they knew they wanted to help, they weren’t quite sure exactly how to go about it until after Rosse received a Facebook message from a friend.
“A friend sent me a post of her friend, Ashley Freely, with Warmed with Love out of Jonesboro. I sent Ashley a message to tell her what a blessing she is and what she’s doing is amazing. She felt the same way and how she started was by going to her closet and getting scarves and hats and then just put them on a tree,” Rosse said.
Fair said her motivation for the project came as both seeing the need through her job as a secretary for a local church as well as personal experience.
“As a teenager, I was a runaway. I lived in foster homes and one January I took it upon myself that I was big enough and was going to do what I wanted to do and so I left. It was very cold and I had no where to go and had to sleep outside all night long and what’s worse, I had talked a friend into going with me and they got sick from it,” Fair said. “It’s been on my heart ever since. For the last four years, I’ve seen people coming through the church just needing help, just needing shelter, just needing warmth and there are so many times we have to say ‘I’m sorry I don’t have anything to give you’ but I can direct them to this resource or that resource.”
Fair said when she was contacted by Rosse about a practical way to help alleviate the suffering from the cold she said she was all about it.
When asked how the two were able to get started and what resources they hoped to use to keep going, Fair said it began with blankets.
“A few years ago, I remembered that someone had donated some felt blankets that they had prayed over. We have used those blankets for different things for outreach and the Comfort Keepers Project but we still have a surplus of unused blankets and so when Tena mentioned it to me, that was one of my first thoughts,” Fair said.
The two were able to purchase some items to create the first packs which would be placed on the first Sharp County Giving Tree located on the grounds of the Highland Assembly of God at 33 Meadowbrook Drive in Highland.
Since launching the tree Jan. 4 and announcing the new campaign on social media, the project has taken off. Other members of the community have come forward making donations of new or clean items in sealed packages which can then be placed at the tree.
The following morning, a second tree was placed in Hardy at the Hardy Civic Center and Rosse and Fair said they have also secured a location in Cherokee Village but are looking for more opportunities.
The two are working to secure a 501-c3 non-profit status so that they can receive monetary donations which will benefit both the project and the giver.
Their long term goal is to generate enough funding so that they can open a warming center during the harsh cold.
“Jesus met the physical needs of the people before he met the spiritual needs and as his representatives and disciples, that’s what we’re to do. We’re to go out and heal and this is a way we can heal people is to help them and meet their physical needs and then go from there,” Fair said.
If you would like to support the Sharp County Giving Tree project, donations can be placed at any Giving Tree location or can be brought to the Highland Assembly of God Church office.