Posted by Jenny SELWAY
by Mikayla Van Loon , Lilydale Star Mail -- reproduced with permission
Rotary Lilydale - Wishing Tree Gift Giving
 Having started with just 14 businesses who put their hands up to collect presents, project organiser Gerry Van Horick said that it has since doubled to 30 businesses this year.
With the community engagement growing in the project, so too is the need to provide presents at Christmas to young people living in transitional housing or who just need some extra support.
 That’s why Rotary has partnered once more with Anchor and the Yarra Ranges Proactive Policing Unit, "to spread joy across the region to those who might be needing it the most" Anchor’s partnership and development lead Lauren Gordon said.
The staff at Anchor have been collecting ideas for presents and with Rotary Lilydale has created a tag system, so that gifts reach various age demographics and interests based on what has been asked for or mentioned by the kids themselves.
“On the tags are things like a Christmas tree or decorations. We never expected a chid in their teens to ask for a Christmas tree,” Mr Van Horick said. “It shows they’re not only thinking about themselves but their family too.”
Leading Senior Constable Luke Egginton said the presents will go to those who are involved in youth programs the police run, particularly in the 14 to 16 age group, as well as to  children that schools have identified as needing some extra support. “We’re involved with many schools at the moment and we have targeted programs for kids that are struggling in the form of positive leadership programs
Children’s House of Early Learning (Mount Evelyn) owner Cheryl Mackay has not only seen the positive impact a present can have on those that receive it but also on the giver. “The kids love to get involved and the children understand that they’re giving something to people who aren’t in the same situation as them,” she said.
Presents for Anchor will be collected by Rotary Lilydale at the end of November, to ensure they can be handed out at the annual ANCHOR Christmas party in early December.
Vouchers and presents for the Proactive Policing Unit will be collected until early December.
Supporting businesses include Genesis Health and Fitness, Cire Chirnside Park, Yarra Junction and Lilydale, Harrow and Harvest, The Running Company, Evelyn Ridge Retirement Village and many more across the Yarra Ranges.
For more information please email