Each year the Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee coordinates with companies and organizations throughout the city to brighten the holidays of over 13,000 people served by local nonprofits through its annual Giving Tree Program. For many of the children and adults participating in the program this may be the only gift they receive this holiday season. 

Once again we requested tags to benefit children served by an organization called COA Youth & Family Centers. Founded in 1906, COA (Children's Outing Association) was initially created to provide families in poverty the means to achieve self-sufficiency and raise healthy productive, successful children. Today COA Youth & Family Centers has over a century of experience helping Milwaukee children, teens, and families reach their greatest potential through a continuum of educational, recreational, and social work programs.

This year 62 employees took tags for 100 children that ranged from newborns to five year olds. Requests ranged from winter coats and clothes to remote control cars, Barbie and Legos.   

Jennifer Sobrowski, Pricing Manager, has been supporting the Giving Tree program for many years and this year she involved her young son in the process. 

“I grew up with 7 brothers and sisters. We were never “without” in my perspective but looking at today’s younger generations I do worry. Even when I had very little luxury in my life I always found ways to support my community because it felt good to do that. Whether you are giving time to volunteer or just a gift to anyone, the feeling that follows that is very fulfilling. A wise man once told me that two of the greatest gifts we can give are smiles and love. I believe that knowing I can bring the feeling of love or happiness to someone with something so small is priceless. 

I want to do everything I can to teach my son the joy of giving with no expectation in return. He can learn to appreciate the valuable return of smiles, love, and gratitude that typically follow the joy of giving.  I brought my son to pick out the giving tree item this year. He was a little upset that we were buying something for another child. He wanted a toy for himself since another child was getting one. There was some debate about it but in the end after I explained why we did this and what it means, he accepted this without issues. By giving this simple toy, I received a beautiful memory with my son. This memory is greater than any gift I could ever receive.”   

Gifts for the children at COA will be distributed at their annual party set to take place the week of December 12. 

In addition to taking tags to benefit COA, an additional 15 tags were taken by our corporate office to benefit young adults served by an organization called Neu-Life Community Development Center.  Neu-Life's mission is to empower children and youth by equipping them with the necessary information, strategies and support systems to have better self-images, develop better life management skills and to cope with their environments. 

"Each year I'm continually impressed by the generosity of our employees.  The support employees show of The Giving Tree is really a reflection of the care and support employees show for our community year-round.  Whether through sharing the holiday spirit with someone who needs an extra hand or picking up trash along the Hank Aaron State Trail or mentoring kids on a FIRST Robotics team, our employees are constantly demonstrating their care for the community"  shared Cathy Stagmer, Manager-Global Social Responsibility.