Author Topic: The Giving Tree (or Angel Tree)  (Read 8288 times)

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peach2play

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Re: The Giving Tree (or Angel Tree)
« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2013, 03:03:22 PM »
I guess I always thought they sat a child on Santa's lap and he asks what they would like for Christmas and then it gets written on a tag and hung on a tree.  Christmas is the one time a year a child is encouraged to dream, and dream big so I don't think he was rude to ask for it. I do think my mom was rude and SS and completely wrong.  I remember the expression on my mom's face as she tore into this unknown kid for daring to ask for a Playstation2 and didn't he know that it was sooo expensive and he was asking people who were giving him something for nothing not to mention his parents would probably pawn the thing anyway.  I grew up in a 700 sq ft mountain cabin, we were missionaries, I had no idea why my mom was being such a snob.


Here is the story from the tag and from my note:
The child was 8 yrs old.  He asked for 3 things on the tag.  I went and found the tag in my scrap box with a note about what happened and what I thought about the situation.
He asked for
1) a Playstation2 (at this point, it hadn't been out for very long and was around $400 IIRC)
2) Warm coats for his whole family
3) a job for his mom and a house for his family

All I could think was that poor kid having Christmas in a shelter with his family, no home, mom out of work, and hoping against hope that maybe a miracle would happen.  The story does have a mostly happy ending.  I told my mom I would see about getting the kid some sort of hand held game from Walmart or something like that.  My grandma had sent me her usual large check for Christmas.  I went down to the local used gaming shop and asked the owner (who was a coworker of mine) if he had any used Playstations for sale and I explained what it was for.  He said he didn't as it was really close to Christmas, but he'd let me know.  Christmas Eve he called me and said someone had brought in a Playstation that was broken and out of warranty.  The guy didn't want to have it fixed and traded it in for some games.  The game shop owner was really good at fixing the consoles so he fixed it up and called me.  The Angel Tree kid did not get a Playstation2, but he did get a Playstation with a gift card for games.  I even found a box for a really cheap game so my mom wouldn't know.  We also got them the coats and I think stockings stuffed full with little things. 

Yvaine

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Re: The Giving Tree (or Angel Tree)
« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2013, 03:05:59 PM »
All I could think was that poor kid having Christmas in a shelter with his family, no home, mom out of work, and hoping against hope that maybe a miracle would happen.  The story does have a mostly happy ending.  I told my mom I would see about getting the kid some sort of hand held game from Walmart or something like that.  My grandma had sent me her usual large check for Christmas.  I went down to the local used gaming shop and asked the owner (who was a coworker of mine) if he had any used Playstations for sale and I explained what it was for.  He said he didn't as it was really close to Christmas, but he'd let me know.  Christmas Eve he called me and said someone had brought in a Playstation that was broken and out of warranty.  The guy didn't want to have it fixed and traded it in for some games.  The game shop owner was really good at fixing the consoles so he fixed it up and called me.  The Angel Tree kid did not get a Playstation2, but he did get a Playstation with a gift card for games.  I even found a box for a really cheap game so my mom wouldn't know.  We also got them the coats and I think stockings stuffed full with little things.

Awww, now that sounds really great.  :) You did a good thing.

Lynn2000

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Re: The Giving Tree (or Angel Tree)
« Reply #17 on: January 08, 2013, 03:32:25 PM »
I think I remember seeing threads on this before, maybe last year, and someone pointed out that at least for teens, a lot of gifts just are more expensive, especially if they aren't into books. I think a similar idea was discussed in the recent thread about equal giving among, say, one's grandchildren--you can get a 5-year-old a great toy for $10, but if you feel you can then only spend $10 on the 15-year-old, it's probably not going to buy them a gift of comparable "awesomeness" to the 5-year-old's. So people should at least think about that before they start buying gifts.

I don't see anything wrong with the charity in charge having guidelines or limits on what the kids should write down; I mean, if you think about it, the wish from the kid in the OP for a job and a house for his family isn't exactly something a person can buy for them, either. It makes the Xbox look quite reasonable in comparison. So it seems like this charity didn't have anyone nudging the kids in a particular direction, and what that can result in is wishes that simply aren't going to be fulfilled--whether it's something no one can grant, like a job for a parent, or just something outside the price range of most people, like a video game system. I certainly don't think the kid was rude to wish for the things he wanted; if anything, the charity was unwise to not have rules about tempering the kids' requests to make it more likely they'd be fulfilled.

I think if you (general) don't like the items on the card, put it back and take another; or, if it's too late to take another, try to fulfill them as best you can in the charitable spirit of the situation. Even if you get the kid "generic" stuff (because the stuff they asked for was too unrealistic), at least they're getting something, when before they would've gotten nothing. If it's just going to cause you stress and angst to fulfill the charitable donation, just don't even get started with it.
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Onyx_TKD

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Re: The Giving Tree (or Angel Tree)
« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2013, 05:47:29 PM »
I expect people choosing tag from those trees to read over the tags before they take them, and to take one only if they are able and willing to provide a gift they think will please the child. There's no obligation to give everything asked for, or exactly what was requested, but if you're not willing to shop for gifts you think they'll enjoy based on the tag, then IMO you should leave that tag for someone else. My mom and I used to pick one or more children every year and we usually spent quite a while looking over the tags, looking at their ages and requests to see which we'd best be able to shop for. We usually passed up the ones with only expensive gift requests because it just wasn't in our budget, but we left them on the tree for anyone else who was willing to fulfill them.

For young children, they probably don't entirely understand either the cost of the items or who's going to be buying them presents. Children old enough to fully understand the process are also old enough to realize that asking for expensive presents also increases the risk of receiving nothing if no one chooses their tag. Children intentionally asking for really expensive presents may be snowflaky, but they'll experience the natural consequence if no one chooses to buy it for them.

Roe

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Re: The Giving Tree (or Angel Tree)
« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2013, 08:32:31 PM »
I don't think it's about poor kids asking for less or that they shouldn't ask for anything fun.

I think it's about the idea that someone, not related to you like your parents or grandparents, buying you a gift and it really shouldn't be a ridiculously expensive one.

When my parents or brothers ask my kids what they want for Christmas, I know they are going to ask for something simple like toys, books or clothes.  (something still "fun" to them but not expensive)

When my DH and I ask them what they want for Christmas, the list is more extravagant.  (Xbox, games, laptop, etc)

I would find it in bad taste to pick up a card from the Angel Tree and find XBOX on the list.  I'd put that one back and look for another one.  I wouldn't mind finding a "want" on the list, within reason.  I just don't think an XBOX, for example, is reasonable.  After all, the games cost a pretty penny.

To some people, the price of an XBOX is nothing.  My aunt and uncle live in Bethesda, MD, and go to a wealthy church there.  Believe me, many, if not most, of the people at that church can afford to give a kid an XBOX.  To them it would be the same as a $5 present is for anyone else.  It is all relative.

This is a good point, cost of things is relative.  That's true.  Still, I would be put off by a request for an XBOX even though I can afford one.  I just find it off.  Obviously, not everyone does.  That's good.  For me, when I take a tag off the tree, I make sure that the gifts are reasonable. 

I think it also comes from the fact that I've known too many families who ask for big tickets items and then pawn them and keep the money.  I know that colors my view.

Deetee

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Re: The Giving Tree (or Angel Tree)
« Reply #20 on: January 08, 2013, 09:00:26 PM »
Whether or not the kid's request was out of line is nothing compared to OP's mom who took the tag and then complained bitterly. That is rude and unpleasant and just borrowing trouble and angst. It is also denying the kid the chance to actually have a chance to get their gift.

The mom is perfectly within her rights to pick up the tag and sneer "I'm not getting that" and then you put the tag back on the tree and pick another one.

There is something almost Dickenson about saying that because a child is poor they can't ask for what they really want for Christmas and they should ask for something smaller.

(Now I also think the kids should be warned that large requests are unlikely to be granted and perhaps encouraged to ask for more reasonable gifts, but at the end of the day, the kids should be able to ask for what they want.)

Personally, I wouldn't buy such a gift. But that is not my Christmas charity of choice in any case.

whatsanenigma

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Re: The Giving Tree (or Angel Tree)
« Reply #21 on: January 09, 2013, 12:15:05 PM »
There is something almost Dickenson about saying that because a child is poor they can't ask for what they really want for Christmas and they should ask for something smaller.

(Now I also think the kids should be warned that large requests are unlikely to be granted and perhaps encouraged to ask for more reasonable gifts, but at the end of the day, the kids should be able to ask for what they want.)

I agree with this.  I think children should be allowed to ask for whatever they want, perhaps even encouraged to do so, because you never know.  But at the same time, I think children should be encouraged to ask for, in addition to the big-ticket items, some smaller things, or less specific things, so they get a better chance of getting something they like.

Example:  If all that is on a tag is "Xbox", then odds are good that at the end of the event, no one will have taken that tag and the charity will have to make a more or less random guess as to what to give the child, probably based only on age and gender.  But if the tag says "XBox, Hello Kitty, Barbie, anything pink"  then maybe someone will get the Xbox for them or maybe someone will take the tag who can't afford the Xbox but can get any of a large variety of things to do with the other topics.  And if no one takes the tag for some reason, then the charity can give something more specific that the child will actually enjoy.

So, I don't think kids should be restricted in what they can ask for (and maybe they should be encouraged to "dream big" because some people really are that generous)  but I would like them to be given a bit of guidance as to what else should be put on a wish list for best results.  A kid that only puts down "Xbox" and ends up with a paint by number kit of a landscape (because that's the only thing left that is considered suitable for a child of that age group and gender) is going to be a lot more dissapointed than a kid that puts down an Xbox and other things (like in my example) and ends up with a pink "Hello Kitty" blanket, IMHO.

Take2

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Re: The Giving Tree (or Angel Tree)
« Reply #22 on: January 09, 2013, 02:38:44 PM »
I have worked with an organization that does an Angel Tree and know some of the behind-the-scenes details for this one, though procedures vary wildly. Most of the kids were asked directly what they want for Christmas back in the early fall. They do not have it explained that some person may buy it for them, and they certainly have no way of knowing if the person who chooses them will be a millionaire or a working class person. Sometimes, the parent or a social worker will help guide the child if the child doesn't have an idea, but they do not tell a child no if the child has a dream gift.

Keep in mind that many of these children come from abject poverty. They and their parents may have no frame of reference to understand that a family could live in a house they own with a yard and cable and electricity that never gets cut off and a nice car...but not be so wealthy that they can spend however much they want on anything they choose. The idea that it is rude to ask for a big gift can only come when there is some awareness of affordable/not affordable. And for families who have lived hand to mouth for generations, the idea of what is affordable for a family that can adopt an angel off the tree may be too foreign to address.

Also remember that generational poverty makes it harder for young kids to learn relative costs the way kids in middle-class homes do. My kids know that we can afford a new dvd more easily than we can afford a new video game system. But generationally poor families get in the habit of spending ALL money as it comes available, creating an environment where a relative may buy a Playstation one week and be unable to pay the electric bill the following week, and sell the tv and the Playstation the week after that to pay for something else. Certainly not all families in Angel Tree programs come from that kind of environment, but some do.

Yvaine

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Re: The Giving Tree (or Angel Tree)
« Reply #23 on: January 09, 2013, 02:44:46 PM »
I have worked with an organization that does an Angel Tree and know some of the behind-the-scenes details for this one, though procedures vary wildly. Most of the kids were asked directly what they want for Christmas back in the early fall. They do not have it explained that some person may buy it for them, and they certainly have no way of knowing if the person who chooses them will be a millionaire or a working class person. Sometimes, the parent or a social worker will help guide the child if the child doesn't have an idea, but they do not tell a child no if the child has a dream gift.

Keep in mind that many of these children come from abject poverty. They and their parents may have no frame of reference to understand that a family could live in a house they own with a yard and cable and electricity that never gets cut off and a nice car...but not be so wealthy that they can spend however much they want on anything they choose. The idea that it is rude to ask for a big gift can only come when there is some awareness of affordable/not affordable. And for families who have lived hand to mouth for generations, the idea of what is affordable for a family that can adopt an angel off the tree may be too foreign to address.

Also remember that generational poverty makes it harder for young kids to learn relative costs the way kids in middle-class homes do. My kids know that we can afford a new dvd more easily than we can afford a new video game system. But generationally poor families get in the habit of spending ALL money as it comes available, creating an environment where a relative may buy a Playstation one week and be unable to pay the electric bill the following week, and sell the tv and the Playstation the week after that to pay for something else. Certainly not all families in Angel Tree programs come from that kind of environment, but some do.

This, and if the kid asked Mom and Dad for some Matchbox cars and was told "no, that's too expensive," and asked Mom and Dad for a Playstation and was told "no, that's too expensive" then too, all the kid really knows is that both things are "expensive." Even though the Matchbox cars are probably within the price range of most of us on this thread, while some of us would be able to buy that Playstation and some wouldn't.

I can also remember a time when I genuinely believed in Santa and thought price was no object in Santa gifts. I remember my parents complaining once about the high price of toys and I was baffled--didn't Santa make them all? In retrospect, the jig probably should have been up! But I was pretty young and had no clue. I seriously thought Santa and his elves sat up there at the North Pole making exact replicas of the Barbies and Nintendos that I saw in stores. This kid is 8, which could go either way on the still-believing-or-not spectrum, I think. But it's another possible factor.

Lynn2000

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Re: The Giving Tree (or Angel Tree)
« Reply #24 on: January 09, 2013, 04:25:21 PM »
It's sad to hear about those attitudes in families that have been poor for generations, and I'm glad there are organizations that are working to help them.

It really makes me feel like not getting the kid an Xbox, though! I would rather spend the same amount of money on good-quality clothes, books, and toys like crayons and toy cars, which are unlikely to be sold for cash later. Even if that's not the parent's intent early on, I can see how, when the rent is late, their kid's Xbox looks like a luxury they can't afford to keep. :(
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violinp

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Re: The Giving Tree (or Angel Tree)
« Reply #25 on: January 09, 2013, 04:37:38 PM »
It's sad to hear about those attitudes in families that have been poor for generations, and I'm glad there are organizations that are working to help them.

It really makes me feel like not getting the kid an Xbox, though! I would rather spend the same amount of money on good-quality clothes, books, and toys like crayons and toy cars, which are unlikely to be sold for cash later. Even if that's not the parent's intent early on, I can see how, when the rent is late, their kid's Xbox looks like a luxury they can't afford to keep. :(

Before the rules got changed in my area, people could take Salvation Army gifts back and exchange them for cash, and lots of addicts would play that system. Now they can only exchange for a different color/size/etc.
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MommyPenguin

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Re: The Giving Tree (or Angel Tree)
« Reply #26 on: January 09, 2013, 06:23:07 PM »
Oh, gosh, now this reminds me of a book - can't recall the title, to my shame. It is one of my favourite Christmas books.

It is about a group of kids. Two of them are in foster care, and they get to make a wish. The 6 yr old wants to wish for a family. The social worker stops her and insists she wish for something reasonable. He writes down that she wants a radio, I think? Even though she does not. The older child steals one of the paper stars and writes down her wish because he wants to make her happy. He doesn't realise until later what a disaster this is (the book ends well, but it makes me cry every time).

The social worker in the book irritated me because he decided the child should  wish for a radio. It is no use posting a wish if it is something the child isn't that keen about. OTOH, if they are only interested in expensive/unrealistic things, someone should explain why this isn't going to happen before they post up that wish.

This book?  http://www.amazon.com/What-Child-This-Christmas-Story/dp/0440226848/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1357773511&sr=1-1&keywords=what+child+is+this  It looks good!  Now I want to read it.

Roe

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Re: The Giving Tree (or Angel Tree)
« Reply #27 on: January 09, 2013, 06:45:32 PM »
It's sad to hear about those attitudes in families that have been poor for generations, and I'm glad there are organizations that are working to help them.

It really makes me feel like not getting the kid an Xbox, though! I would rather spend the same amount of money on good-quality clothes, books, and toys like crayons and toy cars, which are unlikely to be sold for cash later. Even if that's not the parent's intent early on, I can see how, when the rent is late, their kid's Xbox looks like a luxury they can't afford to keep. :(

Yep. And this is what colors my view.  I've seen it too many times.  Even K'nnihave and her family accepted Christmas gifts from a church and returned everything for cash!  I was so upset when she told me. I couldn't believe they did something like that.

I'm all for giving, esp giving gifts to children, please don't get me wrong but I've seen too many lower income families spend ALL their money one week and start to pawn everything the following week just to pay for electricity.  Take2 is right, that does happen.  And even though not all children come from those type of families, many do.  So that's why I'd much rather give books, clothes and simple toys that can't be easily pawned. 

My views have nothing to do with thinking that poor children deserve less.  I don't think that at all. 


blue2000

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Re: The Giving Tree (or Angel Tree)
« Reply #28 on: January 09, 2013, 08:10:15 PM »
Oh, gosh, now this reminds me of a book - can't recall the title, to my shame. It is one of my favourite Christmas books.

It is about a group of kids. Two of them are in foster care, and they get to make a wish. The 6 yr old wants to wish for a family. The social worker stops her and insists she wish for something reasonable. He writes down that she wants a radio, I think? Even though she does not. The older child steals one of the paper stars and writes down her wish because he wants to make her happy. He doesn't realise until later what a disaster this is (the book ends well, but it makes me cry every time).

The social worker in the book irritated me because he decided the child should  wish for a radio. It is no use posting a wish if it is something the child isn't that keen about. OTOH, if they are only interested in expensive/unrealistic things, someone should explain why this isn't going to happen before they post up that wish.

This book?  http://www.amazon.com/What-Child-This-Christmas-Story/dp/0440226848/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1357773511&sr=1-1&keywords=what+child+is+this  It looks good!  Now I want to read it.

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Take2

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Re: The Giving Tree (or Angel Tree)
« Reply #29 on: January 17, 2013, 09:42:04 PM »
Some of my favorite Christmas stories come from Angel Tree experiences. I worked with a very generous group of people, and I got to put out the gift request and track the gifts as they came in. One member of senior management took great joy in choosing a couple of the kids who wanted bikes/tricycles and getting them, plus some nice clothes wrapped in expensive wrapping paper. Many people got a child the same age and gender of each of their own kids and took the child to shop, which is a habit I adopted.  The head of the office handed his secretary his personal credit card after all the gifts were turned in. She was to shop for any left-over angel tags AND to supplement any gifts that were skimpier than the rest. Then all our employees gathered to load the truck together, and we had cookies and punch.