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200 gifts collected in Caring Tree Chapel to support refugee families

Updated: Feb 14, 2023

Students and families of Riverside Presbyterian Day School (RPDS) gathered over 200 gifts for refugee families during its annual Caring Tree project.

Caring Tree is an event at RPDS each year where each class takes an LSS refugee family and provides Christmas gifts for each member.

On December 8th, the school held its Caring Tree Chapel, where students brought up the presents to the altar for a Christmas blessing.

LSS board member and RPDS parent, Kym Hammer, has been a part of the project for 11 years and organizing the drive for the past 4 years.

Hammer said the parent and student participation is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. “The generosity they show is inspirational,” Hammer said.

Leading up to the Caring Tree Chapel, the school’s library presents books about refugees to encourage students to learn more.

Over the years, Caring Tree has inspired the RPDS community.

It inspired a student last year to host a food drive for the LSS pantry. The holiday giving project also inspired an RPDS mother, who wants to start a version at her church.

“As a mother at RPDS, I love how my own children wanted to pick the items asked by the families,” Hammer said. “They wanted to be a part of the selection and wrapping of the gifts. I love this project because I am so proud to be a part of LSS and RPDS!”

For over 15 years, Riverside Presbyterian Church has held Caring Tree, and was later adopted by the Day School. The school hopes to foster in children a sense of giving back to the community through service projects, such as Caring Tree. The school also provides service project opportunities throughout the year for all ages.

Lutheran Social services has been providing refugee services in Northeast Florida for over 40 years. Learn more about our programs here.

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