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Accepting the (Christmas Tree) Challenge to Bring Holiday Cheer to Others

December is upon us already and, with it, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Here, at United Way of the Greater Triangle, it’s no different. Our staff is beginning to think about wrapping gifts, baking cookies, decorating their trees, spending time with family and friends, and the traditions that come with the holiday season. One of our organization’s annual traditions is participating in the Triangle Christmas Tree Challenge, hosted by American Tobacco in Durham.

Each year, we join dozens of other non-profit organizations from across the Triangle to show off our work on the canvas of a Christmas tree. After contemplating how to translate our organization and our impact in the community into tree decorations, we realized that the best way to talk about our work was to show it. We are committed to mobilizing the caring power of our community. For this holiday season, we mobilized the caring power of our staff to accept the challenge to bring holiday cheer to others.

We partnered with the Compass Center for Women and Families in Chapel Hill, an organization whose mission is to help individuals and families prevent and end domestic violence. We asked “how can we help this holiday season?” The answer was simple: help provide holidays gifts for the women, children, and families currently working with the Compass Center.

We answereshopping for giftsd the call for holiday gifts, setting out to bring the requested gifts of journals, children’s toys, and gifts for teenage girls to the Center. We shopped for each special gift. Craft sets, board games, and toys were lovingly picked out for children. Journals were selected with care, checking for high page counts and sturdy bindings. Scarf and glove colors were carefully matched into sets, and bath items were paired with lip glosses to bring smiles to teen girls’ faces.

We wrappedwrapping each gift with care. As holiday music played, our staff carefully wrapped each item, treating it as though it were being hand delivered to a member of their own family. Beautiful bows were added to each package, reflecting the thought put into each gift.

We delivered each gift with a smile. After wrapping each journal, game, toy, and scarf, we loaded the gifts to make our special delivery. Staff and volunteers at thdeliveringe Compass Center greeted us with smiles and welcoming words upon entering their office. Their smiles changed to expressions of surprise when we turned back to the car for second, third, and fourth armfuls of gifts. After five trips to the car, we had delivered all of our gifts, knowing that we brightened 46 lives this holiday Compas

Throughout our shopping, wrapping, and delivery, we documented our work through photographs. These photos were used to tell the story of a small portion of United Way’s impact in the Triangle area through the decoration of our Christmas Tree Challenge tree. Together with 80+ area     non-profits, 19,384 volunteer hours, 550 business partners, and 35,000 donors we are mobilizing the caring power our communities every day.2014 Tree

Our final tree is on display at American Tobacco Campus through January 4, 2015. If you like our tree and its story, please vote for it as a fan favorite by texting Tree03 to 33733 between Friday 12/5 at 7pm and Friday 12/19 at 11:59pm.

Happy holidays and happy new year from all of us to you!