Bright with Hope

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Bright with Hope

Katie Stromme

NTSO's Tree of Hope shines bright with lights and paper ornaments.

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All Christmas trees indicate the joy and sparkle of the season, but there’s one on the Southwest Minnesota State University campus that really symbolizes the spirit of giving: the Non-Traditional Student Organization’s (NTSO) Tree of Hope.
“…they’ve been doing it for years and the support from the college faculty and staff and students has been amazing,” said Amy Nemitz, assistant director of SMSU’s Upward Bound program, who had a large role in organizing the project.
The Tree of Hope, which sat near the Dean’s office in the Bellows Academic building from Nov. 26 through Dec. 12, was hung with festive paper ornaments bearing the names and ages of children in Lyon county. The children represented on the ornaments were selected by Western Community Action based on their families’ needs and income levels.
NTSO suggested that gifts for the children be between five and ten dollars so that the project is feasible for students to participate in.
Although it may seem like toys for kids today are getting more and more elaborate, Nemitz said the best options were still the classics.
“For younger girls baby dolls are great and boys any toy trucks, cars, or farm things. Older teenage kids like gift cards or movies,” she said. And of course, “books are always a great gift.”
Giving locally is a good way to contribute to their community during the holiday season: all of the gifts will go to children in the immediate area. Individuals wishing to participate in the project who worry about having time during the weeks before finals to pick out a gift have options as well. NTSO accepts cash donations, which are then sent with club members to pick up extra gifts.
In the event of ornaments remaining on the tree after Dec. 12, Nemitz said “usually there is a good soul at the campus that walks by and sees a few still hanging and will donate money for those left.”

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