WELLS — The Holy Spirit Parish Advent Giving Trees in Kennebunk and Wells have always been a popular draw for those looking to spread Christmas cheer and the love and mercy of Jesus, but they’ve never been left bare in just hours before.

“On the first Sunday of Advent (Nov. 28), all of the tags and baskets appearing on or at the base of the trees were collected by parishioners at both church sites in Kennebunk and Wells,” said Carolyn Houston, director of faith formation at the parish. “It looks like people really want to be involved!”

At St. Martha Church in Kennebunk and St. Mary Church in Wells, the Giving Trees offer the opportunity for anyone to take a tag off the tree that list a specific item or items of need for those being served at York County Shelter, Caring Unlimited, and Long Creek Youth Development Center. The items range from gift cards to slippers, and toys to winter boots. The laundry baskets below the trees are for local families in need and come with a list of personal care and household items that cannot be purchased with food stamps. The person who takes the tags fills the specific request and brings the items back to the church.

Houston and the parish staff have acted quickly and replenished the trees with tags and baskets to help more people, an unexpected task but certainly one they were thrilled to complete in this season of giving.

“Anyone can come by and participate, with the items needing to be returned to the parish by Sunday, Dec. 19,” said Houston.

Parishes around Maine participate in similar Giving Tree initiatives during December, including churches in Belfast, Camden, Cape Elizabeth, Caribou, Farmington, Fort Kent, Freeport, Gray, Greenville, Jay, Lewiston, Madawaska, Old Town, Portland, Rockland, Sabattus, Scarborough, South Berwick, South Portland, Windham, Yarmouth, York, and many others. For more information, contact your local parish and find out how you can best assist in their Advent service projects.

A special Advent section on the Diocese of Portland’s features many useful resources including a variety of prayers, blessings, and reflections; downloadable and interactive calendars; and event listings for the diocese. The section can be found at www.portlanddiocese.org/advent.