One of the things HCC never seems to run out of is volunteers. That was evident to Laura Gronski more than a decade ago, when she and Gail Golas started talking about establishing an annual Giving Tree at HCC to help out those less fortunate to have a happier holiday. Now in its 13th year, HCC's annual Giving Tree campaign this year collected 369 gifts for people at four local agencies: Western Mass Elder Care, Homework House, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the Holyoke Soldiers' Home.
"This is very overwhelming and has come a long way since 1999," Gronski, staff assistant at the HCC Bookstore, said at the closing celebration of the 2012 Giving Tree campaign Tuesday. "I want to thank anyone on the committee, anyone who bought a gift or who has done anything for the Giving Tree campaign. Thanks for making so many people feel good. It's a wonderful thing."
"Just look around," said Golas, administrative assistant for the Arts and Humanities division. "How many people are we going to make happy today?"
Each year, generous members of the HCC community take tags off one of two Giving Trees on campus and buy and wrap the gifts listed on them. This year the Student Senate held a bake sale to raise money for the Giving Tree campaign and the Criminal Justice Club donated a box of toys and supplies for Homework House.
Sister Jane Morrisey, from Homework House, an after-school and tutoring program in Holyoke, talked about the light that shines in the eyes of the children there, when they receive a gift they didn't expect, and the light that shines in the eyes of their parents, who are able to give a gift that perhaps they would not have been able to afford without the Giving Tree campaign.
"I hope you have a sense of how much your giving means," she said. "They will know that, underneath, there is love in this world for them, and that's what it's all about."
Photos: (Left) Gail Golas places a gift on a table. (Right) The 2012 HCC Giving Tree committee.