With 1 in 3 families in Midland County struggling to meet basic needs such as food and housing, gifts under the tree may not be at the top of the list for some local families this year.

United Way of Midland County’s Sharing Tree program helps our community fill the local holiday wishes of those in need. Entering its 27th year, Sharing Tree strives to ensure that every person feels the touch of our caring community this holiday season and throughout the year.

“Sharing Tree truly reflects the caring spirit of our community,” shared Ann Fillmore, Executive Director of United Way of Midland County. “We are grateful to the hundreds of people who make it happen. From local students who lovingly tie ribbons around each tag, to the families who find just the right tag to fill, Sharing Tree has become a symbol of caring for neighbors during the holidays and throughout the year.”

Sharing Tree also helps to meet those basic needs that many are struggling with, including help with utilities, transportation, household items and food. The Sharing Tree program helps to ensure those resources are available throughout the year. New this year, United Way is excited to offer the option to shop online for basic need items and last minute gifts through the brand new Sharing Tree Impact Store. Items such as gas cards, grocery gift cards, utility vouchers, transportation tickets, household items, clothing, toys, books, and local entertainment tickets are available through this quick, easy and secure shopping option. Shoppers can visit the mobile-friendly Sharing Tree Impact Store at www.sharingtreemidland.com to fulfill Christmas wishes now through December 22.

“By introducing a new online shopping option for Sharing Tree, we’re looking forward to reaching even more people in our community who might not otherwise get to a tree location,” added Fillmore. “We’re hoping that our expanded shopping options allow us to reach even more neighbors in need this year.”

For online shoppers who would like to make an even greater impact, The Charles J. Strosacker Foundation will match all purchases and contributions on the Sharing Tree Impact Store dollar-for-dollar on Cyber Monday, November 27. Thanks to this generous match, United Way is hopeful that all tags have the potential to be filled this year.

Bobbie Arnold, President of The Charles J. Strosacker Foundation, shared, “The trustees are optimistic that this match will help generate interest and traffic for the Impact Store with the hope that our community will fulfill more tag requests and Christmas wishes of our most vulnerable neighbors this holiday season.”

Traditional Sharing Tree tags for individual or family requests will continue to be found at Sharing Tree locations throughout the community, including United Way, K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Wildfire Credit Union, Kroger, Big Apple Bagels, School Days and many area churches, non-profits and local corporations. Computers To Go in will also host a tree and will serve as the gift drop-off location in the Midland Mall. A complete list of Sharing Tree locations can be found at www.unitedwaymidland.org/sharingtree.

“It is humbling to read the requests on tags,” shared Ann Fillmore. “So many of the requests are for things we may take for granted—such as a warm coat, winter boots, sheets and even gas to get to work.”

Be sure to wrap the gift so that it can be opened during gift-check in, securely tape the tag to the gift and return to any Sharing Tree location by Sunday, December 3. For more information, call United Way of Midland County at (989) 631-3670 or visit www.unitedwaymidland.org/sharingtree.