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'Giving Tree' Tradition Grows In Elmwood Park

From left, St. Leo's student John Mayo, 13, Barbara Rubino and Sister Alice Francis with the Giving Tree.
From left, St. Leo's student John Mayo, 13, Barbara Rubino and Sister Alice Francis with the Giving Tree. Photo Credit: Joshua Jongsma

ELMWOOD PARK, N.J. — A tree at St. Leo's Church in Elmwood Park represents the gift that keeps on giving.

The "Giving Tree," placed by the front door at the parish, is decorated with tags listing donation needs for various organizations. If the tags start to run out, new ones replace them, Sister Alice Francis said.

The gifts will be collected until Dec. 6. They will go to organizations such as Eva's Village, Catholic Charities' Christmas Sled, Social Concerns, and Retired Franciscan Sisters of Peace.

Barbara Rubino has been organizing the Giving Tree for about 25 years after being inspired by another church.

Parishioners usually bring hundreds of donations to the church each year, Rubino said.

"We're not super-rich in the parish," she told Daily Voice, "but they always, always come out and do extras and give. They are very helpful."

Once the tags are all gone the tree will be decorated with homemade ornaments.

The Rev. Mike Donovan said the people of Elmwood Park are very generous, but he needs Rubino to organize the Giving Tree.

"I'm looking for people to take over," Rubino said. "Father Mike says I can't quit until I'm 97."

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