Dream Tree program donates 60,000 gifts to children in need

Local News

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV (WVNS) — The Dream Tree is a staple at The Greenbrier during the holiday season, but it is more than just a decoration.

It represents 60,000 presents donated by Governor Jim Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice. Each year, for the past 11 years, the Justices donate $1 Million worth of gifts to the Dream Tree for kids in need in six different states. Coordinator Alyssa Hill said she saw a greater need this year.

“With COVID and a lot of people not having money for Christmas or money to even just do the simple things anymore, we are able to impact so many families,” Hill said. “I mean, you have to think that, 60,000 kids are going to get a present for Christmas just because of one family that is so generous.”

Despite the holiday season only starting at the end of the year, Hill said applications open in June and planning for the Dream Tree starts right after Christmas.

She said shopping begins in early August and they purchase toys focused on learning and physical activity. There were 160 organizations enrolled in the Dream Tree program this year in Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland.

Hill said each organization does their part to help in the gift-giving process, even stopping by to help wrap some of the gifts before taking them to families in need.

“We have our volunteers that come and wrap with us, they are people at our organizations that are getting these toys,” Hill said. “For every hundred gifts that you are getting, you have to give me an hour to wrap so they also get to contribute and feel like they were a part of the project as well.”

For Hill, working with the Dream Tree program is more than just a job.

“It is very impactful for me, because, I know that I am making a difference,” Hill said. “Me and another woman named Holly, and Amanda, we all do this all year long and it is like a family basically.”

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