September 27, 2020

BY BRAD COUGHLIN
No matter what it’s called – Christmas Wish Tree, Angel Wish Tree, Holiday Wish Tree or CSI Wish Tree – it’s a program that helps students.
Started more than 15 years age, Conestoga Students Inc.’s (CSI) Wish Tree is a staple of the college’s holiday season – it helped over 50 families last year alone. Students can anonymously register any of their children who are 12 and under, and a gift will be given to them prior to Christmas. On the other end, students can sponsor children, who are only identifiable by their age and gift choice, purchasing gifts for them, and delivering the presents to the CSI office in Room 2A104.
“We’ve had an unbelievable amount of students asking to sponsor children,” said Becky Saba, CSI’s program and communications co-ordinator. “We have so many people who want to help but we haven’t had enough time to get kids signed up yet.”
There is no set price range for gifts, but Saba said sponsors are always generous.
New this year, CSI has introduced hampers as well. Similar to sponsoring children for gifts, a $30 donation will buy a hamper containing dinner rolls, salad, ham or turkey, a gravy mix, turkey stuffing, instant mashed potatoes and dessert.
“We thought ($30) was a price-point a lot of people would be able to afford,” said Saba. “You can’t really get too much under $30 … food’s expensive.”
For both the hampers and gifts, CSI will purchase items for any family that doesn’t get sponsored.
Although both benefit those in need, early Christmas displays were criticized by students who thought it was disrespectful before Remembrance Day.
“We like to respect everyone’s opinion,” said Saba. “(Decorations were) simply for promotion – an hour after we put them up we had students coming in to ask about the Wish Tree.”
And, while some may refer to the program as Christmas Wish Tree, CSI has tried to use other politically correct designations to assure students that it’s for anyone in need.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what religion you are,” said Saba. “I always feel like (we) can always be giving back, no matter what.”
CSI will accept donations and unwrapped gifts until Dec. 3.