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November 27, 2012 > Family Giving Tree to serve 'One Millionth Child'

Family Giving Tree to serve 'One Millionth Child'

Submitted By Family Giving Tree

Family Giving Tree's (FGT) 23rd annual Holiday Wish Drive is under way. This year, FGT will reach its "One Millionth Child" milestone while delivering happy holiday memories and gifts to Bay Area children. The Family Giving Tree began in 1990 in a San Jose State University MBA class. Jennifer Cullenbine and Todd Yoshida created the Family Giving Tree with the hope of providing holiday gifts to 300 children in East Palo Alto, Calif. Encouraged by a successful first year, Cullenbine continued and expanded the organization, becoming a licensed 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. In 2001, the nonprofit formalized its Back to School Drive, which delivered 21,000 backpacks to low-income children prior to the start of school this fall.

Each year during the holiday season, children who have been registered with recipient social services agencies are asked to name their specific gift wishes. The children's wishes are printed on cards and distributed to Holiday Wish Drive leaders for employees and customers to fulfill and return. The gifts are then collected, sorted and wrapped by more than 7,000 volunteers at Family Giving Tree's warehouse. The gifts are picked up by the participating agencies and presented to the individual children.

Since 1990, Family Giving Tree has fulfilled the wishes of 991,516 children for holiday gifts and back-to-school supplies. The organization needs 1,050 Holiday Wish Drive leaders to help reach this year's goal. "Every gift counts toward meeting our goal and fulfilling our One Millionth Child wish," says Founder and Executive Director Jennifer Cullenbine. "Any corporation, small business or community group is welcome to participate as a Holiday Wish Drive leader." As Cullenbine explains, supporters come up with many different and creative ways to do so -decorating a Christmas tree with request cards, establishing a virtual giving tree with Family Giving Tree, hosting a party, or collecting toys as admission to an event. Last year, 17 ambitious Junior Girl Scouts from Troop 61080 in Los Altos, Calif. set up a tree in the front office of their school and described the Holiday Wish Drive at the Monday morning assembly. They collected 165 gifts.

On a larger scale, a number of local corporations have made the Holiday Wish Drive a tradition. Jessica Graham of Cisco Community Relations, one of the nonprofit's long-standing corporate sponsors, says, "Cisco is thrilled to lead the 2012 Holiday Drive with Family Giving Tree. With this year marking the one millionth fulfilled wish, Cisco's Silicon Valley employees are eager to participate in the legacy of bringing gifts and holiday cheer to children and families across the Bay Area."

Information about how organizations can register to lead a holiday wish drive is available at

Top 20 requested gifts:
1. Scooters, skateboards, skates
2. MP3 players
3. Legos
4. Shoes
5. Barbie dolls
6. Baby dolls and dollhouses
7. Coats, jackets and sweaters
8. Remote control vehicles
9. Movie tickets
10. Arts and crafts
11. Digital cameras
12. Ride-on toys
13. Sweatpants and sweatshirts
14. Boom boxes and radios
15. Bath and body products
16. Team logo items
17. Children's outfits
18. Balls
19. Action figures
20. Toy trucks and cars

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