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Tree of Hope to provide Christmas gifts to local children

The Unicoi County Clerk’s office is hosting its annual Tree of Hope program again this Christmas season. The tree benefits countless children across the county.
The program works similar to the Angel Tree program hosted by the Johnson City Mall – different children in need have been added to the tree and people are encouraged to stop by the clerk’s office to pick up one of the ‘ornaments’ off of the tree.
Each ornament has a sort of card, or placard, that lists a particular child’s needs. People then go shop for the child based on their needs and return the goods to the office to be presented to the child on Dec. 20.
“Years ago, we wanted to do something for the kids here in the county and we came up with the idea of doing the Tree of Hope,” said County Clerk Mitzi Bowen. “We get families from here in the county and it’s Unicoi County families. It’s families that we know need things at Christmas time that are having a hard time.
“It could be your next door neighbor or the person you sit next to in church or the person you’re working with … everybody has hard times.”
Bowen’s office adopts out all of the placards around Christmas time and Bowen said that the program has grown so much that they are now also able to provide food boxes to families in need.
“It’s grown so much that it’s unreal how much our little county will give,” said Bowen.
On each of the cards is information pertaining to each individual child. The children receive coats, shoes and other forms of clothing that they may need. And of course, they get a toy. Bowen’s office began the program back before Thanksgiving, opting to start early because people wanted to adopt a card in time for Black Friday. The deadline to have all of the packages into the office is the week of Dec. 15. Pickup days for the families is Dec. 20.
Donations can be contributed for the tree anytime before then and may be taken to the county clerk’s office.
“I want to thank all of those who have donated this year,” said Bowen. “Like I said, it’s amazing how heartwarming this little county is. It has made a lot of kids very happy this year for Christmas. They’ll be well taken care of.”