A Banner Year for Making Childrens’ Wishes Come True
By Peter Jasinski
FITCHBURG -- The staff of LUK Inc. set out last month with a goal of fulfilling the highest number of Christmas wishes the social services agency had ever taken on.
With one week left before Christmas Day, that goal was accomplished.
“It’s awesome and it’s all over Worcester County essentially,” said Brigitte Ferrante, LUK’s senior office manager. “By the end of the day Friday, the gifts should have all been delivered to the children’s homes.”
This was the tenth year that LUK hosted its annual giving tree program. Over the last month, LUK’s staff enlisted the help of 32 businesses, schools, and nonprofits to host Christmas trees adorned with ornaments listing the gifts local children hoped to receive this year. Employees or clients of each participating organization were then able to purchase the requested items, which LUK staff then collected and delivered to their recipients this week.
Last year, 750 gifts were collected. This year’s total was 758, making it the most generous year in the program’s history.
“The amount of generosity this year was incredible. We worked with 32 groups and almost all of them were asking for even more wishes,” said Ferrante. “Most of them said all of their wishes were taken in the first couple days.”
Part of this year’s high total was due to the number of participants that hosted trees. In past years, Ferrante said only about 20 trees were stationed throughout the county.
As recipients are almost entirely clients of LUK, who staff members identified in the weeks leading up to Christmas, Ferrante said this year’s record-breaking number of wishes also reflects the need for support in the region.
“Even though it seems like the economy is doing better, and the public is able to buy all of these gifts, there are still these families that can’t,” she said.
North Middlesex Regional High School was among the most involved participants, with roughly 100 gifts being purchased by students and staff.
Ferrante said Enterprise Bank was also among this year’s top donors.
Patty Johnson, a branch service specialist at Enterprise’s Fitchburg location, said her bank has been taking part for three years.
“The enthusiasm this time was amazing. We ran out of tickets, which happened last year, too,” she said. “We hope next year we can get even more.”
Johnson’s office sponsored about 15 wishes, which she said were split between staff and customers.
“Most of the employees will take at least one or two, but customers will also come in,” she said. “There was one woman who was having a family Christmas party. Instead of buying gifts for each other, they purchased gifts for this.”