Over 15 families and 150 individuals had the opportunity to exchange gifts this holiday season thanks to The Wish Tree, a collaborative project between The Rehabilitation Foundation, The Olean YMCA and the N. Union and Walmart Olean Subway locations. The project began six years ago when Shelley Pollock, Foundation Board member and Subway owner offered to host the wish trees at her Subway establishments.

Each November, Christmas trees at each location are decorated with “wish tags.” Each tag contains a gift request for a person supported by The ReHabilitation Center or one of their family members. The requests include everything from cleaning supplies and warm weather clothing items to toy and game requests for children. Applications are only accepted from individuals or families who have a financial need, and who haven’t been accepted into other community programs.

Community members visit the locations, take tags off the trees and return gifts to the locations prior to the mid-December deadline. Foundation and Agency staff then purchase supplemental gifts, wrap and deliver in time for Christmas.

Agency Service Coordinators, Larissa Bennett, Karen Hunt and Molly Martinelli pick up gifts to deliver to families.

This was a record year between gifts purchased by community members and donations made to supplement what was not purchased, according to Elena Bombardier, Director of Development.  “We can’t thank everyone enough.” said Bombardier, “The creativity  put into some of the gifts is incredible. Many people really go above and beyond and put a lot of thought into each item they purchase.”

One of the agency service coordinators who helped a few families apply this year, expressed her shock at the amount of gifts brought in. “I had no idea there would be this many!”

While each applicant can submit three gift requests, the amount they actually receive depends on what is purchased and the donations that come in to support the project. “Our goal is to make sure everyone has at least one item to open on Christmas morning,” said Bombardier, “this year everyone received at least two or three.”

The Rehabilitation Foundation is extremely grateful to the three community locations who hosted the trees this year, and to all who purchased a gift to help make a brighter holiday for the people we support and their families.

One of the many gift pick up’s at the Walmart Subway

Thank you card from a family who received gifts from the Wish Tree in 2017

“Projects like this help to remind us what the holiday season is all about.” said Bombardier.

Thank you to our 2017 Wish Tree Hosts! Please consider supporting those who support us:

  • The Olean YMCA – 1101 Wayne Street, Olean, NY
  • Subway in Walmart Olean –1869 Plaza Drive, Olean, NY
  • Olean Subway – 502 N. Union Street, Olean, NY

We would also like to thank Mastel Ford and the other generous community donors who contributed specifically to this project.

All year long, you can make an online donation to go directly towards the Wish Tree Project. $25 sponsors one person, and $50 sponsors a family of two, and $100 sponsors a family of four. Anything you can donate helps put one more gift under our Wish Tree!

Online donations will be used to supplement the gifts purchased by the community to ensure everyone who has submitted a request will have gifts to open on Christmas morning. The Wish Tree Committee collects, wraps and works with agency staff to deliver gifts in time for the Holiday. Join us in making someone’s Holiday a little brighter!

Learn more about The Rehabilitation Foundation Here

Questions? Call the Foundation at 716-375-4730 ext. 562 or e-mail: foundation@rehabcenter.org