By Rosemary Lewallen     11/3/2020

It’s not too early to plan for Christmas. The Giving Tree Project is an annual outreach by St. Irenaeus Health Ministry that has been a tradition at St. Irenaeus for the last 35 years. The project’s aim is to show residents, no matter their religion, that they are not forgotten during the holiday season.  

In past years, Health Ministry has provided a visit from Santa and caroling, led by giving volunteers, and gifts donated by parishioners. This year, however, the organizers have to curtail these activities due to health concerns. Organizers believe that remembering these residents with a gift is especially vital in 2020. Long-term care residents have been sequestered since March with COVID 19 concerns, and probably haven’t been able to visit with their loved ones.  

The facilities that St. Irenaeus Health Ministry serves are: Harvest Retirement in Buena Park, Sunrise La Palma, Karlton Residential Center in Anaheim, Health Care Center Orange County in Buena Park, and Anaheim Terrace Care Center. 

Each resident at the five facilities will receive a gift, so just over 400 gifts are needed. Due to health restrictions, this year the group must purchase the gifts rather than ask for parishioners to purchase and donate them. In addition, for the first time, Health Ministry plans to give gifts to the staff at each of the five facilities to show appreciation for the extra work, long hours and anxiety they have endured this year and are still enduring due to the restrictions of the pandemic. These essential workers are heroes who have put their health at risk daily. 

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, parishioners are not able to help to fill Giving Tree bags with suggested items which would then be distributed to the care center residents as in the past. This year, those wishing to participate in this holiday outreach are asked for monetary donations that will be used to purchase gifts for the residents.  

Donations may be made through online giving at www.sticypress.org (Online Donations button, Giving Tree Donation button) or checks payable to St. Irenaeus Church, with “H.M. Giving Tree” written on the memo line, and dropped off or mailed to St. Irenaeus Church, 5201 Evergreen Ave., Cypress, CA 90630 in an envelope marked GIVING TREE. The deadline for receiving checks is Sunday, November 8th. If you have any questions, please contact Monica Kovach at 310-490-6113.