The Christmas season will shine a little brighter this year for more than 65 local families in need.
Distribution of gifts purchased through Carlisle High School’s Bison Tree program has already begun and will continue through Dec. 14.
Tara Bennett, a distance learning facilitator at the high school and coordinator of the Bison Tree program, said 19 families have already picked up their gifts and that most of the tags have been taken from the trees.
The trees have been up in the lobbies of the elementary and high school since mid-November. Bennett said support from the community has been strong, noting that help has come from individuals in the community and organizations like the Futuristic League and the Altruistic League, as well as many area churches and businesses.
"We get a lot of support from the community for the Bison Tree," she said.
Making the program a success is a team effort, with student council members helping with the shopping and others pitching in where they can, Bennett said. She credits Karen Dycus and Shon Evans at the school district’s administrative office for doing "a lot of legwork" in getting the gifts distributed to families.
The Bison Tree program will provide gifts for 62 Carlisle families this year, which is an increase from last year, Bennett said.
"We’re up about 12 families from last year," she said. "The need is much greater this year."
Four families are still on the waiting list, Bennett said. Once gifts have been purchased for the families already on the Bison Trees, then efforts can shift to helping the families who are still on the waiting list. The waiting list was created to include families who applied after the Nov. 1 deadline, Bennett said.
Popular toys on the children’s wishlists this year include the Lalaloopsy doll and Baby Alive doll for the girls and hunting gear and footballs or "anything football related" for the boys, Bennett said. She also said that they purchase a lot of bikes each year.