The red gift tag Mary Jane O'Connor picked off the tree asked for a fleece house coat and a pair of non-skid socks for an 81-year-old woman.
"When I go out to purchase these gifts I like to imagine I'm shopping for a relative I haven't met yet," O'Connor said. "I imagine her putting on her fleece coat and socks to keep warm."
In reality, O'Connor will never meet this woman, a client with WestMass Elder Care, since the gifts people buy for HCC's annual Giving Tree Campaign are anonymous, but that's okay. She knows it's for a good cause.
"This is one of the nicest things we do on campus," said O'Connor, coordinator of HCC's Wellness Education program. "It's really wonderful."
HCC launched its 14th annual Giving Tree Campaign Monday with the unveiling of the holiday tree, giving faculty, staff and students their first opportunity to choose from among 389 gift tags. This year, those gifts will benefit clients from four area nonprofits: Homework House (yellow), the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (green), the Holyoke Soldiers' Home (blue) and WestMass Elder Care (red).
There are gift tags for newborns, older children, veterans and adults up to the age of 103, the latter a woman from WestMass Elder Care, said Karen Desjean, a member of the Giving Tree Campaign committee.
"She wants an ankle bracelet," Desjean said.
The main tree is located in the third floor lobby of the Frost building; a second is in the HCC Library. All you have to do to participate is choose a tag, buy the gift, wrap it up and bring it in.
The campaign closes Dec. 6 and will culminate in the presentation of gifts to representatives from the four agencies on Dec. 12.
Photos: (Left) Karen Desjeans, a member of the Giving Tree Campaign committee, puts a tag on the top of the holiday tree. (Right) HCC student Melissa Tartt and Gail Golas, a member of the Giving Tree committee, select gift tags.