The Giving Tree Gives More Than Gifts to Residents and Supporters

Every holiday season, volunteers and staff at Phoebe Ministries ensure that residents have a merry Christmas. Thanks to the generosity of Phoebe supporters, residents at Allentown, Berks, Wyncote, and Richland enjoy special holiday-themed activities and entertainment. Some of these activities include decorating alongside staff, building gingerbread villages, and preparing for the arrival of Santa throughout the entire month of December.

One of the most-loved traditions that takes place during the holidays at Phoebe is the Giving Tree, which is also known as Operation Santa at Phoebe Allentown. This program ensures that every resident, including those in short term rehabilitation, receives a gift. Residents make a wish list that may include some of their favorite snacks, bath and beauty products, lottery tickets, or puzzle books. Family members, staff, volunteers, and others who would like to ‘adopt’ a resident can select one of these wish list items, which are placed on a tree in the form of tags. Giving Trees are normally found in the lobby or common area. All four Phoebe campuses have a program similar to the Giving Tree, and if a resident does not get adopted, the Phoebe community sponsors that individual through the generous contributions of our supporters.

On the Phoebe Allentown campus, Harriet “Midge” Coker, head elf and volunteer, starts collecting gifts for residents in September. Midge has been volunteering with Phoebe for over 30 years, and in 2018 received the Volunteer of the Year Distinguished Service Award from LeadingAge PA. Her home is turned into Santa’s workshop for four months as she wraps and prepares presents for delivery when the Christmas parties begin in December.

Area churches and businesses also sponsor gifts for residents. This year, Wohlsen Construction adopted all 79 long term care residents at Phoebe Berks. Wohlsen places a Giving Tree in their office for employees to pick a resident to adopt. Once all gifts are purchased, a wrapping party is held in their office with cookies, hot chocolate, and Christmas music. On Friday, December 17, representatives from Wohlsen delivered the wrapped presents directly to the Health Care Center.

At Phoebe Allentown, Dun & Bradstreet adopted 50 residents. Dun & Bradstreet has been supporting Phoebe and Operation Santa for over 5 years, normally taking over 200 tags per year. Due to many employees still working remotely, the format has changed, but not the spirit, as employees still look forward to contributing.

Gina Althouse, Senior Administration Assistant at Dun & Bradstreet, comments that Operation Santa “is something that everyone at D&B always looks forward to at this time of year. When we were in the office—I would get asked when the tree was going up and when the tags would be ready! I think for me and the employees, just knowing that the residents will have gifts to open during the parties is what makes it worthwhile. Many of us over the years volunteer at the parties too, and seeing their faces is priceless!”

New Creation United Church of Christ in Easton sponsored their own Giving Tree, and were able to adopt 50 Phoebe residents this year. Members of the congregation purchased and wrapped gifts that were on wish lists, and delivered them to Phoebe in December.

During each campus Christmas party, residents are given their gifts from a jolly Santa Claus. As they open their gifts, residents light up at seeing their Christmas wishes come true! Thank you to everyone who assisted in making spirits bright this holiday season.

If you are interested in volunteering with Phoebe, or would like to plan ahead to become a Santa’s Helper for Christmas 2022, please visit .