Oaklawn’s ‘Holiday Giving Tree’ prepares to brighten Christmas for area families

MARSHALL – Several parents and children from the Marshall and neighboring communities will enjoy a merrier holiday this year because of the generosity of their friends and co-workers.


Each year, families with Oaklawn connections have been chosen for assistance through Oaklawn’s annual Holiday Giving Tree program. Eight Oaklawn employee families will receive help this year.


The Holiday Giving Tree is a display of holiday ornament “gift wishes” placed in the hospital’s cafeteria as well as an additional tree near Ella’s Cafe in the hospital’s front lobby. Each ornament represents a specific request from a family, and have included items ranging from toys, blankets, winter clothing and gift cards.

“Our goal is to fulfill every wish on the tree and with the help of those of us who are able to contribute, we look forward to making the holidays a truly special occasion for all of our Holiday Giving Tree families, said Devon Farkas, who works in human resources at the hospital.


“This is our culture,” said Marta J. Ross, the department’s director. “These people are our family. And we take care of them, especially if they’re in need.”


The program permits Oaklawn employees to nominate co-workers whose families might be facing difficult financial issues, Ross said.


“Then we reach out to the employees to find out whether there are some special needs,” Ross said. “Sometimes the help is declined, and if that’s the case we respect the family’s wishes. We just want to make sure that we understand their needs and wants.”


Items already donated this year include toys, clothes and shoes. The gifts and donations have been collected early in December so they could be distributed to the families before the holidays arrive.


Co-workers will wrap the various gifts intended for parents. But the parents themselves participate by wrapping gifts earmarked for their children – items such as games and toys, Farkas said.


Oaklawn’s Giving Tree actually is a year-round service, Ross noted.


“This literally is not possible without the employees,” Ross said. “Some of the emotions and the gratitude the people express – to me, it can be overwhelming.”