Emmelia Letendre, student customer representative at UMF University Store from Berlin, New Hampshire, left, and Aimee Degroat, University Store manager. Courtesy of UMF Image

FARMINGTON – The University Store on the University of Maine at Farmington campus is abuzz with the holiday spirit, not just with holiday shoppers but also with holiday generosity, as members of the campus and community once again take the opportunity to make sure there is something under the tree for everyone.

In its 15th year, the annual “Giving Tree” features a small tree decorated with tags expressing the Christmas wishes of children and families throughout the area.

This year, the holiday tradition is in partnership with the Farmington Elks Lodge and Operation Santa Claus. Members of the campus and local community are invited to take a tag to fulfill a special request or to drop off a new, unwrapped gift of clothes, shoes, winter wear, toys, books, etc. from infant to adult sizes.

“In a year where so many things have changed, people’s generosity has only increased, and it is so inspiring,” said Aimee Degroat, University Store manager. “As soon as the tree went up this year, people started taking tags to fill. We have gone through at least 60 and now are on our second round of tags.”

Emmelia Letendre, a first-year student from Berlin, New Hampshire who works in the University Store, thinks the Giving Tree is the perfect way to give back and support those within the community who otherwise may not have been able to provide Christmas gifts for their family. 

“With this being my first year here at UMF, it has been extremely heartwarming to see the generosity and excitement from our students and staff to help those who are less fortunate, especially during this time of year,” said Letendre.

According to Degroat, donations came from throughout the campus and community.

“Students, staff and faculty were all so eager to give. Some offices adopted the wishes of entire families and UMF Athletics collected over 60 unwrapped gifts at three home basketball games in December as part of Operation Santa Claus. It’s definitely a community effort!”

Anyone interested in contributing can bring items to UMF’s University Store located at 238 Main Street in Farmington until Friday, Dec. 17. The store is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday this week.

For more information, contact Degroat at aimee.degroat@maine.edu.