Tree of Hearts program underway

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You can find a Tree of Hearts at 14 locations in Sanders County. This one is at Gambles in Plains. (Lisa Larson/Clark Fork Valley Press)

Fruit grows on trees, in season, all around the world. But the tree that is now in season in Sanders County is the Tree of Hearts.

The Sanders County Sheriff’s Office is again sponsoring the popular and giving program. According to coordinator Theresa Milner, office administrator at the sheriff’s office, trees went out to 14 locations last Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Posters are at locations in six Sanders County towns.

It is fitting to note the holiday, since families throughout Sanders County will have a more “thankful” Christmas via gifts and food baskets — due to lots of open-hearted people.

The Tree of Hearts program is in its 20th year. It was started by Sanders County Sheriff Gene Arnold in 1998.

Folk who would like to participate in the loving, caring program can pick up a Tree of Hearts form at locations in Thompson Falls, Trout Creek, Noxon, Plains, Hot Springs and Dixon (see poster locations below).

There will a Tree of Hearts in all those communities, ranging from Dixon to Noxon (see below).

On the form is a request for information about the family, as to the age of the children, in addition to the number of adults (age 19 and over). Forms must be completed and mailed to the Sanders County Sheriff’s Office, P.O. Box 910, Thompson Falls MT 59873, or dropped off at the office located at 1115 Main St. The deadline for form submission is Dec. 14.

In lieu of a gift or food basket, cash donations can be sent or taken to the sheriff’s office.

IT’S IMPORTANT to note that First Security Bank of Thompson Falls matches the total in cash donations up to $1,000.

Some vendors, where posters and trees are located, also donate to the program.

An all-around volunteer effort is necessary to make the Tree of Hearts program successful. “We never turn away volunteers,” Milner said.

Sheriff’s deputies do the shopping for presents for the gifts and food baskets. The baskets include turkey, chicken, stuffing and everything that makes a Christmas dinner complete.

Then volunteers start “bagging” the goods the morning of Friday, Dec. 21 in the Valley Bank basement in Thompson Falls. They then deliver gifts and baskets to registered families.

How popular has Tree of Hearts been in recent years? There were 157 families that benefitted from the program last year, after a number of 187 in 2016. However, there was exactly the same number of children to receive Tree of Hearts gifts — 410 each year. Up to 257 families have been benefactors of the Tree of Hearts program annually over the last eight years.

For further information about Sanders County’s Tree of Hearts program, call the sheriff’s office at 406-827-3584, or visit the following locations:

Posters

(source of forms)

Hot Springs – Buck’s Grocery

Dixon – Senior Center

Plains – City Hall

Thompson Falls – Harvest Foods

Trout Creek – The Local Store

Noxon – Main Street General Store

Tree of Hearts

Hot Springs – Gambles

Dixon – Senior Center

Plains – Mountain West Clothing, Gambles, Drug Store & Mangy Moose

Thompson Falls – First Security Bank, Valley Bank, Empire Builders, Doug’s Hardware, Grocery Surplus & Thompson Falls Trading Post

Trout Creek – The Local Store

Noxon – Main Street General Store

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