Giving Tree celebrates 16th year of generosity

Standing before the Giving Tree in the Bayview Cash Store on Dec. 5, participants debated where to put their nonprofit group’s ornaments on the quickly filling branches.

Those who were a few minutes late lamented the fact that the best spots on the tree were already taken by glass angels, gingerbread men, felt cats and dogs, pinecone elves and more within half an hour.

An annual tradition, the Giving Tree’s branches are adorned with ornaments made by Whidbey Island nonprofits.

Two trees, one in the Cash Store in Bayview and one in the Island Athletic Club in Freeland, boast a variety of handmade ornaments for sale. Prices range from $5 to $25, and all proceeds go towards the nonprofit represented by the ornament.

This year, at least 12 organizations signed up to display their ornaments.

The South Whidbey Girl Scout Troop chose to support Whidbey Island Nourishes this year, a nonprofit that feeds kids on the weekend with food bags.

“They do so much for the kids in our community that don’t have enough to eat,” Girl Scout Julia Maher said. “We wanted to help them be able to put together more lunches for kids that need it. It makes us feel good knowing we are helping others.”

This is the troop’s fourth year making ornaments for the Giving Tree. Every year the scouts pick a different nonprofit to support.

Fellow Girl Scout Kalea Staats said they have helped WAIF, Whidbey Children’s Theatre and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Island County in the past.

“Most of us have been Girl Scouts since first grade,” she said.

Clare Duval-DeFord has been making ornaments supporting Enso House, an end-of-life hospice care center, for the past three years. An abstract artist, Duval-DeFord is eager to share her talents for this good cause.

She said most years, their ornaments are “very simple ideas that would appeal to a broad base.”

They are usually made of different materials and strive for originality, like the one year they made little cabins out of cardboard and watercolor paper.

This year, a miniature Christmas tree with ornaments sits in a spool of thread.

Both of the Giving Trees will be up until Dec. 31. Ornaments can be purchased with cash or check at any of the surrounding businesses on Bayview Corner, such as Side Market, Salon Bella or the Taproom.