Giving Tree unveiled at Eastfield Mall

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

SPRINGFIELD Eastfield Mall was filled last Tuesday with traditional and modern holiday music and the spirit of generosity as the 23rd annual Hasbro Children's Giving Tree was unveiled.

Members of the East Longmeadow High School choir sang songs as students from Warner Elementary School of Springfield and the Montessori School of West Springfield placed their decorations on the Christmas tree in front of Steve & Barry's University Sportswear.

These were no ordinary decorations, however. Each student hung an "Act of Kindness" on the tree, a piece of paper describing a generous act the child performed.

Hasbro Inc. asks that community members interested in being a part of the program bring non-perishable food items and messages about their acts of kindness to the Giving Tree.

"Acts of Kindness" forms have been distributed to children through local schools and are available online on Hasbro's Web site,, under special programs, as well as at the Giving Tree.

The program provides toys and games as well as food to underprivileged children in the Springfield area over the holiday season. The Giving Tree program will run through Dec. 14.

The "Acts of Kindness" slips and food donations can be dropped off Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. for the duration of the program.

Debbie Rubenstein, director of Rachel's Table, said, "A lot of you are thinking about what you're going to get for Christmas or Chanukah or Kwanzaa. People down the street don't know where they're going to get breakfast. Forty-four percent of school-aged children in Springfield are food insecure. All the food you donated today will go to hungry families." She thanked both Hasbro and the children in attendance for working on the Giving Tree project.

"I know you're glad to do good things but you wonder who receives it," Major Thomas Perks of the Salvation Army of Springfield said. "People just like you and just like me. People who have hit a bump in the road. They're reaching up for help and we're reaching back." Perks added that he hopes the childrens' acts of kindness keep going after the Giving Tree comes down.

Michael Niziolek, vice president of human resources for Hasbro Games and Joanne Dernoga, vice president of community investment for the United Way of Pioneer Valley were present as well.

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