Mitten Tree 'decorations' to be donated to children in need

By Shondiin Silversmith
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, Dec. 12, 2013

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While your Christmas trees might be decorated with candy canes, glass ornaments, colorful lights or icicles, the staff at the Gallup Public Library are decorating their three with something else.

They are decorating their Christmas tree, or what has been officially named the Mitten Tree, with mittens, hats and scarves to benefit children in need.

"We have a tree at each of the libraries and people can donate any kind of scarf, mitten or hat for the winter," said Octavia Fellin Public Library Assistant Director Betty Martin, adding that it's as simple as putting them on the tree.

The items collected will be donated to the Battered Families Services Inc. for the children within their organization.

Martin recalls the first year the library hosted the mitten tree because it ended up being an empty tree, but now a few years later she said they have a pretty good turnout.

"It's going pretty good now, we actually have people that made hats and gloves to donate," Martin added.

Michelle Tuohey, executive director for Battered Families Services Inc., said she was unaware that the library held such an event for them, but she did recall a donation of mittens, hats and scarves last year without knowing where they came from.

Now that Tuohey is aware of where they came from she said, "Thank you.

" I'm very grateful because we have a lot of children that reside in our shelter and children who come through our administration office with their mothers," Tuohey said, adding that they are happy to be able to share those items with them especially in this type of weather. "A lot of the families that come to our organization leave their home without anything so to be able to get items that can keep them warm is very important," Tuohey added.

Tuohey said around the holiday season is when they see an increase of people at their organization, and she thinks it could possible be due to financial concerns during the holidays.

"When things get heated financially during the holidays that can cause more issues within the homes," Tuohey added. "We're very grateful for anything that people share and would like to give to the organization."

If people would like to make any type of donations they can be dropped at the Battered Families Administration Office at 207 S. Strong Drive in Gallup.

The public can donate any type of gloves, scarves and hats as long as they are new.

Of why the library staff asks the public to decorate the Mitten Tree, Marin said, "Just to make sure all the kids are taken care of because winters are cold here.

"It's just a good thing to do especially for the battered families they are in need of things like this," Martin added.

The mitten trees went up last week and will be on display through Christmas, Martin said, adding that after the holiday they will distribute the donations.

There are two mitten trees set up in Gallup -- one at the Octavia Fellin Public Library located at 115 W. Hill Ave. and the other at the Children's Library located at 200 West Aztec Ave.

For more information: 505-863-1291.

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