Recognizing the need in its community and the many families struggling due to the ongoing pandemic, Bank Rhode Island (BankRI) will begin its annual “Holiday Giving Tree” program early in hopes of brightening the season for as many local children as possible. The signature effort, now in its 23rd year, collects gifts for underprivileged kids that are distributed by the bank’s nonprofit partners.
The program begins at BankRI’s Wakefield branch at 290 Main Street on Monday, Nov. 2. As a result of COVID-19, the bank has made adjustments to this year’s effort, and its branches are operating with health and safety guidelines to help keep customers and staff safe.
Throughout the program, all BankRI locations will display a “Holiday Giving Tree” in their lobbies, decorated with ornaments featuring the name, age, and holiday wish of the children served by that branch’s nonprofit partner. During the multi-week effort, customers and members of the community are invited to visit a branch to select an ornament and provide a gift for that child. Those interested in helping may also call the Wakefield branch at (401) 642-1935 to request ornament information by phone if they prefer.
Once a gift has been purchased, donors may return to their branch to deliver the unwrapped present. BankRI is offering alternatives to safely deliver gifts for those who may have pandemic-related concerns. Donors may also call their branch to schedule a curbside drop-off where bank staff will retrieve the donated present from the trunk of the vehicle. Those who wish to enter a branch to place their gift beneath the tree must wear a face covering, and will be greeted by an employee at the entrance.
“With nearly every aspect of our lives impacted by the pandemic, we were committed to making sure we could safely continue our holiday program and lift the spirits of kids at a time they may need it most,” said Mark J. Meiklejohn, President and CEO of BankRI. “We realize families have been hit hard and providing gifts this year may be a challenge, so we want everyone to know our staff is ready to make participating as safe and easy as possible.”
Gifts collected in Wakefield will be given to children served by Welcome House of South County in advance of the December holiday. In 2019, BankRI’s “Holiday Giving Tree” led to 1,466 gifts for kids statewide.