Giving Back With the Giving Tree


The Giving Tree: Located at Live Oaks Elementary School. Photo Courtesy: Darlene Koosa, December 3, 2021.

Kylee Payne and Zach Worzel

     The Giving Tree is a seasonal tradition in Milford’s elementary schools that aims to teach selflessness and generosity. The event was introduced to Milford in 2005 and has become a memorable fundraiser ever since.

     The annual tradition assists families in the Milford school system who are in need of support during the holiday season. Families make lists of desired items as well as stores that they attend on a regular basis. From there, lists are taken by families participating, buying the desired items. Due to Covid-19, the organizers are asking for gift cards, specifically to Walmart and Target. 

     Live Oaks Elementary School accepts Giving Tree donations from November 22 until December 13, and donations are open to the public. 

     Mrs. Darlene Koosa, teacher leader at Live Oaks, explains, “This is one of the things that Live Oaks does to put all of the values we talk about such as kindness, thinking of others, and showing care into action”

     The Giving Tree is going on its sixteenth year of service and usually serves ten to fifteen families per-year, per-school.

     Kindergarten teacher at Live Oaks, Mrs. Melissa Costantini, has been a part of the Giving Tree for the past six years and believes that the tradition teaches compassion, selflessness, and the importance of being part of a community. 

     Constantini explains, “The Giving Tree is an excellent example on how communities can come together to help others. It reminds all of us of the importance of thinking of others and gives people an opportunity to do some good while also setting a positive example.”

     The Giving Tree has received positive feedback from everyone involved.  The experience allows for many in the community to feel  relief knowing that there is a group of people backing them through a hard time for many. 

     In attempts to give kids more opportunities for participation in the Giving Tree with new Covid-19 restrictions, Mrs. Kara Hayes, Live Oaks’ social worker and Koosa have been working together to do in-school fundraising events. 

     Concerning the upcoming Sparkle and Shine kindness day event, Hayes states, “Everybody can dress up in their sparkliest, glittery outfits or headbands. It is just a fun way to raise some money and get the kids involved.”

     Koosa explains that the event is a great way for the kids to participate in a good cause, letting them contribute to something greater than their classrooms. At the end of the day, the amount of money raised is announced, and pictures get posted of everyone having fun in their sparkly vests.

     The sense of community comes from the act of giving to others, and those receiving are undoubtedly grateful. Live Oaks also participates in many other fundraisers, such as the recent Thanks for Giving Food Drive. 

     Hayes says, “Our community does love helping others. We also have other places outside of Live Oaks that have contributed in years past such as Subway; Youth and Family services have also been helpful. People really do feel that sharing and compassion for others. It’s not just the season for presents, it’s the season for giving.”