By Tifani-Rae Steward- Staff Writer

Mary Ellen Martin, director of store services at  UMF; and Arlene Dalrymple, store clerk, with the  University Store’s Holiday Giving Tree

Mary Ellen Martin, director of store services at
UMF; and Arlene Dalrymple, store clerk, with the
University Store’s Holiday Giving Tree
(Courtesy of UMF).

The holiday season is all around, and can be seen through the many holiday lights, decorations, and even the cold crisp air. In part of the holidays, the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) University Store is holding a “giving tree,” in which students and staff are encouraged to help those in need in Franklin County.
A person entering the store will see a tree decorated with sled cutouts and on each cutout is the name of an item that is crucially needed by someone in the community. These items can range from pots, pans, blankets, hats and gloves, to small toys, such as puzzles.
“Students will come in and see the tree and a few will take a sled but a lot of the donations have come from the faculty,” said Mary Ellen Martin, Director of Store Services, “We have a large box that we use to collect items and last year it was picked up and emptied three times.”
This is the seventh year in which the university story has hosted this charitable event. “It is nice to partner with the community,” Martin said “We concentrate on Franklin County, partnering with the Franklin County Children’s Task Force. There are just so many people in need around us.”
“The first year we did this, we partnered with a larger task group,” Martin said, “the event went great, however, we found that there are just so many people in need in Franklin County that our help is best served here.”
“As a thank you, for every item you donate, the University Store will offer you a store coupon for 25% off the regular purchase price of one item,” Martin said.
Sarah Lemelin, a sophomore majoring in Special Education, was unaware that the University Store was hosting this event but said, “I think this is a great idea to give back to the community, and I am probably going to donate now.”
Tori Penny, a sophomore majoring in Secondary Education, thinks “It sounds like a great idea.”
“We appreciate everybody’s help. This is a very generous campus, in fact there is a blanket drive in the library,” Martin said, “We appreciate it when everybody steps up.”