Be Inspired by Carbondale, Colorado’s Story of a Truly Unique Giving Tree

by Joanne Steele on December 24, 2009

For the past 10 years, the residents of Carbondale, Colorado have created a very special Giving Tree. Until this year it has happened without publicity or promotion. It doesn’t supplant their Toys of Tots program or Christmas baskets.

The 2009 Carbondale Giving Tree

It is a spontaneous, random act of kindness and giving that was started 10 years ago by a newly divorced resident facing her first Christmas without her children. In an attempt to not miss her kids so much during the holidays, she decided to spend the day doing acts of kindness. Her Giving Tree is now a townwide tradition.

I was fortunate in finding this story online thanks to the first time coverage in the online edition of their local newspaper., I emailed Dawn Chase at the local Chamber of Commerce with some questions. Here are her answers, which exemplify the spirit of a small town coming together to make certain everyone has a special Holiday.

How do you manage the tree to keep someone from just cleaning it off?

We live in a pretty small town so the idea is to trust that whoever takes stuff needs it. We don’t babysit the tree and definitely try and stay shy of it at a certain point so folks can help themselves without people watching.

How do you let people in town who might have a need know about the tree?

Word of mouth and signage on the tree.

Tell us more about the tree?

Besides being pretty unique – a group of folks just hanging stuff on a tree on Main Street with a sign letting people know that if they need something to take it and if they have something to leave it – the story of how it began is inspiring.

After that first year the woman started the Giving Tree to continue this idea each Christmas. This tree is covered with money and small gifts, usually homemade – cookies, bookmarks, hats, lip balms, ornaments, mittens, etc. – for folks to help themselves to. The plan was launched by a working class gal with not a lot of money and is aimed towards the same. The idea is to perpetuate the idea of kindness and caring for each other more than anything else. The folks who participate (all participation in anonymous) feel the joy of giving by doing their part to load up the tree and hope that their small gestures make someone else’ day better.

Merry Christmas and thanks to the people of Carbondale for an inspiring story.

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