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South Hills

Jefferson Hills church's Giving Tree project supports those in need

| Friday, Dec. 15, 2017, 1:21 p.m.
Wrapped gifts are fill tables in a downstairs hallway of St. Thomas A’ Becket Roman Catholic Church on Gill Hall Road in Jefferson Hills Borough in December 2017. The gifts will be distributed to about 20 nonprofit groups around Southwestern Pennsylvania.
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Wrapped gifts are fill tables in a downstairs hallway of St. Thomas A’ Becket Roman Catholic Church on Gill Hall Road in Jefferson Hills Borough in December 2017. The gifts will be distributed to about 20 nonprofit groups around Southwestern Pennsylvania.

The gaily wrapped presents take up a large portion of the downstairs hallway at St. Thomas A' Becket Roman Catholic Church on Gill Hall Road in Jefferson Hills Borough.

And that makes Sister Mary Judith, who is in charge of the parish's Giving Tree, very happy.

“It's a beautiful thing,” said Sister Mary Judith, who started the church's holiday Giving Tree program nearly three decades ago. The Giving Tree is a project of the parish's Ladies of Charity group, she said.

This year church members — as well as others — have dug deep in their pockets to help St. Thomas with buying gifts and necessities for nearly 20 nonprofits in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

“It is our way of reaching out to those who are in need,” she said.” It can be a sketch pad or a pair of jeans.”

Sister Mary Judith said each year the church receives lists of items needed or wanted by clients of the nonprofits. When those lists are received, church volunteers will then make ornaments with the desired items written on them for the tree. Church members wishing to participate will take an ornament and purchase the item written on it.

Some of the organizations that church members buy items for don't want them gift wrapped, Sister Mary Judith said. But when it's OK, many of the people who buy gifts wrap them.

“I am very pleased how people go out of their way to gift wrap,” she said.

Like the last two years, Sister Mary Judith said the church expects to donate about 500 items to charity, an amount it has matched during the last two years.

“I am happy we do this and get a lot of comments about the beauty of the tree,” she said.

Suzanne Elliott is a Tribune-Review staff writer. She can be reached at selliott@tribweb.com or 412-871-2346.

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