RIC Giving Tree Yields Gifts for 40 Children in Homeless Shelters

This wasn’t a typical Christmas wish list. The items written there that most children take for granted, such as pajamas, jeans, a winter jacket, sneakers and snow boots.

Jane Lutrario, coordinator of the Interfaith Center at Rhode Island College, had received the list from the St. Vincent de Paul Ministry of St. Charles Church in Providence. It included the requests of 15 homeless families who are currently living in shelters with their children, ages 1 to 15.

Lutrario wrote each item that was requested on tags and hung them on a “Giving Tree.” She invited students, faculty and staff members to take a tag and help fulfill the families’ wishes.  Soon, her office was filled with brightly wrapped gifts – every request fulfilled.

Lutrario wasn’t surprised that the wish lists didn’t include requests for toys and electronics. Many families living in homeless shelters don’t have many clothes, since there’s nowhere to store them or even wash them. And the clothes they do have are often hand-me-downs.

 “To get something new – with a tag still on it – is just so exciting for them,” she said.

James Del Buono, sexton of St. Charles Church, stopped by earlier this week to pick them up. “This means a lot,” Del Buono said, as he loaded his arms with presents. “When a child wakes up with no gift, he’s taken out of society. He’s a victim. He’s left out. By people stepping up – and we can all step, we have the power – it gives this little child happiness.”