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Family Giving Tree: Supporting Those in the Bay Area Who Need It Most

Growing up, Jamie Ascencio, like many young children, associated the holidays with the smell of Christmas trees. Jamie’s memory isn’t of a Norman Rockwell-style trip to the tree lot to pick out her family’s tree, however. While her single father spent long hours working a seasonal job at the Christmas tree lot, she did her homework in a trailer, taking breaks to help him shake out and load the trees.

“I have fond memories of helping my dad,” she said. “I didn’t understand when I was younger, but the reason he was doing all this extra work — rain or shine — was so that he could put presents under the Christmas tree. Those sacrifices are embedded in my head.”

These memories are just one reason that Jamie, along with the ClearSlide team, was so thrilled to give back to Family Giving Tree. In December, we participated in the Family Giving Tree Holiday Wish Drive as our third event within our “10 Ways to Give Back” initiative to mark our 10th anniversary.

Family Giving Tree

Although the San Francisco Bay Area ranks as one of the world’s most affluent, one out of four children in the region lives in poverty. The emotional impact of living below the poverty line is particularly traumatic for young people. It erodes kids’ confidence and happiness, and it can ultimately take away their ability to succeed.

Originally founded in 1990 as a San Jose State MBA project to combat this problem, Family Giving Tree has grown into an established, respected nonprofit. The organization provides year-round support to children throughout the greater Bay Area, and it has impacted nearly 1.6 million children and individuals since its launch.

The Gift of Granted Wishes

The Holiday Wish Drive is Family Giving Tree’s annual holiday event. In 2018 alone, the event fulfilled nearly 78,000 holiday wishes, with the help of more than 650 Bay Area nonprofits and schools and 1,500 individuals, groups, and businesses. Fulfilling the exact holiday wish of someone in need may not seem like much, but it’s everything to a person who might not otherwise receive a single gift. It lets them know that someone out there cares about and supports them.

ClearSlide was honored to be a part of this year’s drive, especially knowing our efforts and donations went right back into our own community. “The donations we provide to them go to children that are in transitional housing and foster care,” said Valerie Tsai, explaining why she chose this charity. “We’re not just giving donations that could end up in another state; we know we’re helping the next, up-and-coming generation right in our community.”

Giving back to our community is one way we can show our neighbors that they are not alone, and that things will get better. As Jamie put it, “No one is exempt from hardships — we all go through them.” The more we can join together as a community and show others in the Bay Area that we are committed to helping them succeed and get out of poverty, the better we will all be for it.

Just as Jamie reflected on her holiday memories with her father, the ClearSlide team has had the chance to pause, give thanks for our blessings, and find ways to support those around us. Participating in the Family Giving Tree Holiday Wish Drive was a great way for our team to give back to our community, and we look forward to the next event in our “10 Ways to Give Back” initiative.