Sharing Tree offers needed school itemsThe Corbett Family started The Sharing Tree in 2002 as their private effort to give back to the community. Since then, the organization, patterned after Minnesota’s Caring Tree, has provided needed school supplies to 250 Hudson students.
By: Margaret Ontl, Hudson Star-Observer
The Corbett Family started The Sharing Tree in 2002 as their private effort to give back to the community. Since then, the organization, patterned after Minnesota’s Caring Tree, has provided needed school supplies to 250 Hudson students.
Registration begins this Friday, May 1, for the next school year. Applications are available from counselors in all Hudson schools including St. Patrick’s School and Trinity Academy.
The couple started their charitable work in their Twin Cities neighborhood when their three sons were ages 2, 4 and 5, beginning with a food drive. The family would distribute fliers on their block on a Thursday and on Saturday would collect whatever their neighbors had left for them, pulling the children in wagons.
Soon it expanded to two double blocks and the collection of specific items, such as jackets or diapers, in addition to food for the Merrick Community Services food shelf.
“We have always been involved in volunteering since the children were young,” said Ken, “and each of the boys had to have a volunteer job while in school.” Bryan volunteered at a veterinarian’s office, Nicholas volunteered at Christian Community Home and Drew at the food shelf in Stillwater.
While still living in Minnesota, the family began volunteering for the Caring Tree. After moving to Wisconsin, Cindy continued to volunteer for the Caring Tree in Stillwater. She realized there was a need here when she had to turn away a Hudson man who applied for school supplies for his children because he did not live in Minnesota. In 2002, the Corbetts started Sharing Tree in Hudson.
“Some of these children have never had the chance to go out and get school supplies,” said Cindy. “One grandfather brought his granddaughter and said she had been looking forward to it for two weeks. It’s things like that that keeps us doing it each year.”
Applications for families needing school supplies used to be available only at St. Patrick’s and Trinity Academy, but this year the program is expanding.
Registration begins this Friday, May 1, and applications are now available from school counselors at all Hudson schools, including St. Patrick’s and Trinity. Families should return their applications by Aug. 7; distribution will be Aug. 19 in the lower level of St. Patrick’s Church, 1500 Vine St.
Only Cindy and Ken know the identities of the students and keep that information confidential.
“Ideally we would like each student to be individually sponsored,” said Cindy, who starts collecting supplies and buys in bulk and when the items are on sale. Volunteers will be at tables at shopping sites during July and early August, where you can pick up a Sharing Tree Tag, listing the supplies needed.
“It is a dual goal now,” said Ken. “To help more students, depends on how successful we are is at getting the message out that we need help.”
“The biggest thing now is the accessibility is better for the families,” said Cindy. “For seven years we were only at two locations.”
Members of the community can “adopt” a student by age by picking up a Sharing Tree Tag during July and August. People can also donate by purchasing the list of supplies needed or donating money directly.
The cost of the backpack and to fill it with the needed supplies varies, depending on the age of the student – elementary, $35; middle school, $45 to $60; high school, $160.
The Sharing Tree is now one of many area funds that is in the family of Hudson Community Fund, which are managed by the St. Croix Valley Community Fund. This affiliation allows donors to make tax-deductible contributions.
To donate money, make checks out to the Sharing Tree and mail them to the Hudson Community Fund, 516 Second St., Hudson WI 54016. For other details on how to donate, call the fund at (715) 386-9490.
For more information, call Cindy Corbett at (715) 549-6431.