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One way I give back

My three boys have all attended our town's small Catholic school from grades Kindergarten through 6th grade. Small class sizes and an education rooted in faith are just two of the reasons we chose St. Max for our children. The school's staff makes every child who walks through the doors feel special and the families who attend welcome every new comer with open arms. Back when my kids first started school at St. Max, I knew I wanted to give back. I wanted to do something to really make an impact on our teachers, letting them know how appreciated they were.

Today on the blog, I'm sharing how I give back to our Catholic school each Christmas season. What started out as an idea has blossomed into an annual tradition that our school and parishioners look forward to. My hope is that you take my idea, make it your own, and pay it forward to help another school in need.

I knew that our teachers and staff had various things they wanted to see in their classrooms. Maybe it was a new area rug for story time... or a certain poster for the classroom wall. Whatever the need, big or small, every classroom had one. And so the Wish Tree was born.

All the teachers and staff were told to make a list of all their classroom wishes. These wishes, both big and small, were made into our wish tree ornaments. Here's how I did it...

First I cut circles out of used Christmas cards to act as my ornaments. The Punch I use is linked herea. The first year I managed to come up with enough old Christmas cards to fill our tree. Then, as years went by, parishioners started delivering their used Christmas cards after the holidays. Now I have an endless supply and I love that!

The ornaments need to be double sided, so I also cut circles out of lined and plain white paper. I run the plain paper through an adhesive machine, and stick the circles back to back - so one side is a christmas image and the other side is blank. I then punch a hole in the top of each ornament. And now for the wish...

I took those wish lists from teachers and wrote every single wish on an ornament. I made sure to label the top of the ornament with the recipient in red ink so it really stands out... (Kindergarten, 5th Grade, Music, or even the School Office). This will readily tell people who they are buying for.

I'm always as detailed as I can be with the school's wishes. I include the item's description, price, and the website or store it can be found at. No wish is ever too big or too small. Some ornaments might be for dry erase markers for $8, water color paper for $40, or a specific amount of money for a classroom field trip. Every single ornament is for a specific need. Tuition money, uniform gift cards, or reams of colored paper. People know exactly what they are buying and what their money is going for. I think that is one of the reasons why our school wish tree has been so successful.

Lastly I take ribbon loops and attach them to each of my ornaments. The ornaments are all hung on our school's wish tree set up in our Church gathering space. As people come and go, they'll stop, look at the ornaments, and maybe take one or two to help out our school. On our wish tree I have instructions...

Please considering helping out our school by purchasing one of our wishes on this tree.

Wrap up your donation and be sure to use the ornament as the gift tag so we

know where to deliver your gift. Wrapped gifts can be left under our wish tree or

delivered to the school office.

It is so important to label each ornament with the specific classroom. Not only will the school know who to deliver the wrapped gift to, but parents will typically find ornaments specific to their child's grade.

Presents are all delivered to each classroom after the holidays ... and sometimes teachers will have students help unwrap the classroom gifts. It's really beautiful to see how excited the students are when they receive new books and things for their classroom.

The wish tree as been such a blessing for our school. From Sharpie markers to field trips to even a Cricut for school bulletin boards... so many needs have been filled by people's generosity... and you gotta love that.

Remember to check out my Instagram @smalltownme

Love Emily.

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