- Associated Press - Sunday, December 20, 2015

KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) - Those in need of winter clothing will be a little warmer this winter thanks to an idea inspired by Kokomo arts advocate Beth Notaro.

On any given afternoon, the tree located in the back of the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library’s Main Branch facing Market Street can be seen decorated with new or gently used winter hats, gloves, scarves and even coats and shoes - all free and up for grabs - thanks to The Giving Tree.

The Giving Tree is an outreach effort organized by Mary Buchholz, a longtime friend of Notaro, who passed away in March. The two had discussed doing The Giving Tree last winter.

Buchholz said she is carrying the idea out this year in hopes that it will thrive as a way of protecting those less fortunate from the cold this winter.

“After Beth passed away it stayed on my heart and in my mind,” Buchholz said. “Since we’ve started, I’ve seen people go up and add things to the tree themselves. It’s been amazing.”

Buchholz said she has already received more than 600 items in community donations that she will periodically fill the tree with when the weather cooperates.

When items have been removed from the tree, new items are put up. The Giving Tree will be providing donations through Feb. 28, 2016.

Buchholz credited Susan Alexander and the Downtown Association for helping her scout potential locations for the tree, while facilitating conversations with the library to nail down a spot.

Alexander said she was happy to be a part of the charitable outreach, which was yet another fitting tribute to Notaro.

“It’s gone amazingly,” Alexander said. “The donations have poured in and my heart is warmed by the fact that other trees with clothing items are being spotted in the area.

This is one thing the Downtown Association does well,” she added. “We’re always open to great ideas from the community, and we try our best to connect those ideas with the appropriate resources, big and small.”

Buchholz noted that Grace United Methodist Church and South Side Christian Church have started Giving Trees of their own - another positive aspect of the outreach effort.

Buchholz is accepting donations for the tree at Main Street Café, 223 N. Main St., but noted those wishing to donate can drop off items themselves at the tree if they wish.

KHCPL Director of Marketing and Community Engagement Lisa Fipps said employees at the library already have taken notice of The Giving Tree and the impact it has had.

“The big thing we see is they are getting a lot of donations,” Fipps said. “A lot of people want to support this, and we’ve already had some of our employees participate. We’ve had a lot of good turnout based on the fact that it’s located right by us.”


Source: Kokomo Tribune, https://bit.ly/1YiON9c


Information from: Kokomo Tribune, https://www.ktonline.com

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