LISBON – The 21st annual Lisbon Giving Tree project is under way. Requests are coming in and tags will be hanging on trees throughout the communtiy.

Organizers Judy Hardy Goddard from the town of Lisbon and Carolyn Davis from Catholic Charities Maine Family Child Care are in charge of the lists and making out the tags. Trees will appear in local churches and in town offices and Lisbon High School.

Most years, tags are placed on the trees after Thanksgiving. But some will go up early this year due to the timing of Christmas Day. It falls on a Saturday this year and those working on the project need about 10 days to sort and deliver the packages to needy families.

This means that the return date at the Lisbon Falls Community Library is Saturday, Dec. 11, and the return date at the local churches is Sunday, Dec. 12. The first major sorting will take place on both floors of the library on Sunday, Dec. 12, then on Monday, Dec. 13, when the library is closed. The workers must leave the library space empty and clean for Tuesday morning. The next week would not leave enough time.

Coded tags with specific requests will be hanging on the Giving Trees. Each tag will say if the gift is for a girl or a boy, the age of the child and the request. People from the community select a tag or two, then return the wrapped and decorated gifts. The gifts are delivered by whomever made the original referral. All is confidential. The child receives a gift addressed to his first name from Santa.

The lists are put together through the Lisbon Welfare Office and through Catholic Charities Family Child Care, which coordinates the referrals from agencies such as Head Start that serve the Lisbon area. Children from Lisbon, Sabattus, Durham and West Bowdoin are eligible.

There is a screening process and referring agencies vary from year to year according to how many people from the eligible towns have needed services. Almost all the tags are for children.

“We have seen bad years when hundreds of children need assistance and then we have seen good years when the need is down. What is consistent is that there always is need and somehow the need always gets met,” said Davis. “The Giving Tree is an event that has become part of the fabric of the town. With war images glaring at us from our televisions day in and out, the Lisbon Giving Tree gives us a way to help our own and nurture our community. That is an essential truth about Christmas.”

For more information about the Giving Tree, people can contact Goddard at the Town Office at 353-3000 or Davis at the Catholic Charities Maine office in Lewiston, 784-0157.

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