The WJBC Brotherhood Tree FAQ and Other Info:
The scope of the need:
Census statistics show that 22,002 people in McLean County (12.9% of our population) are living under the poverty line. For these families, simply “making ends meet” for day to day expenses can be overwhelming. As Christmas approaches, stress levels grow even higher, as families struggle to find a way to keep the holidays happy for their children and loved ones. Information we’ve received from other social service agencies in the area indicate that we can expect our numbers of referrals to rise again this year.
What is the WJBC Brotherhood Tree?
Each year for the past 44 years (this year will be our 45th), WJBC begins the day after Thanksgiving, asking our listeners to pick up at least one extra gift when they do their Christmas shopping. We then ask that the gifts be wrapped, tagged with what’s inside, and placed under one of the WJBC Brotherhood Trees located throughout McLean County. The week before Christmas, the gifts are organized in one location, and an army of volunteers descends upon the Brotherhood Tree headquarters to sort the gifts and prepare them for delivery. On Saturday, December 14th, literally hundreds of people will be mobilized to see that the gifts are personally delivered to the homes of our less fortunate neighbors in McLean County. In 2012, the WJBC Brotherhood Tree “elves” delivered to 1,743 addresses in McLean County, serving 7,959 people.
How did the program start?
The WJBC Brotherhood Tree began almost as an afterthought back in 1969, when WJBC moved into its current studios. The staff put up a Christmas tree in the lobby, and someone came up with the idea to put gifts under the tree for needy families. We didn’t keep records back then, but to the best of anyone’s memory, the Brotherhood Tree provided gifts for six or seven families the first year of operation. Last year, that number reached 1,743 families.
Where do the referrals come from?
To keep some of the magic of the holidays alive, we don’t reveal all of our sources. Some of our names come through school districts and social service agencies, others are referred through neighbors and friends. The WJBC Brotherhood Tree is unique in a couple of ways. Unlike other programs, the WJBC Brotherhood Tree attempts to provide gifts for every member of a family, not just children. The gifts may not be extravagant, but the goal of the Brotherhood Tree is so that every member of the family knows that there’s someone out there in the community who cares about them. We also don’t ask anyone to prove their financial need. If someone says they need help, we believe them. We determined some time ago, we wouldn’t ask anyone to endure the humiliation of filing a financial statement. We understand that most agencies must do that. It’s just not how we operate.
How can I help?
There are several different ways to get involved with the WJBC Brotherhood Tree!
· Donate Gifts: We request that gifts for the WJBC Brotherhood tree be wrapped and tagged with age and gender of intended recipient... and what’s inside. Gifts can be placed at any of our Brotherhood Tree locations throughout the area, including: The WJBC Studios, The Digital Store at the Shoppes at College Hills, DoubleTree by Hilton, any Bloomington/Normal/or Lexington Commerce Bank location, Denny’s Doughnuts, Great Harvest Bread Company, The Children’s Discovery Museum, Heritage Plaza, Eastland Mall(inside Wild Country)and the Chenoa Pharmacy. Gifts will be accepted beginning the day after Thanksgiving, with a deadline of Wednesday, December 11th.
· Donate Money: We have a team of volunteer shoppers who are experts at taking donated dollars and stretching them to help fill in the gaps. No donation is too small—even five dollars can make a difference! Beginning in mid-November, a link will be placed on WJBC’s website (www.wjbc.com) to donate by Paypal…or checks can be mailed to the WJBC studios at 236 Greenwood Avenue, Bloomington, IL 61704. If requested, cash donations can be acknowledged during an on-air thank-you. We don’t automatically acknowledge cash gifts on-air to respect the privacy of our donors.
· Donate Time by wrapping and sorting gifts: This year, our army of volunteer elves will be working at the Armory to help wrap and sort gifts the week of December 9th. If you’re interested in volunteering to wrap and sort gifts, please contact Peggy Hundley at email@example.com
· Donate Time by delivering gifts. On Saturday morning, December 14th, the Brotherhood Tree elves will be out and about throughout McLean County delivering gifts to thousands. We encourage our delivery elves to involve their whole family---delivering for the Brotherhood Tree really has become a part of the holiday tradition for many families in McLean County! It’s easy to get involved! To help volunteer, you can simply come out to the Illinois National Guard Armory building on South Main Street in Bloomington on Saturday morning, December 14th. We start at 8:00 a.m…..and work until the last gifts leave the facility. As a volunteer, you’ll select which area you deliver to…and how many packages you deliver. It’s entirely up to you. We have some families who deliver to a handful of families on their way to breakfast, and others come with large vans and “make a day of it.”
What if I would like to refer a family?
To refer a family, the following information needs to be submitted in writing:
· Names, ages, and genders of all members of the family. (Please list all – and only—those residing in the home. Additional referrals may be submitted for family members living at other addresses)
· Address of family. Please include directions if it’s a rural address, or if it’s difficult to find.
· Phone Number of family…or of someone we can contact if we have trouble delivering or if there are any questions. This is really important…because every year, we have bags of gifts returned because we were unable to find the family. Without a phone number, we have no way to track them down.
· You can submit the referral to Laura.Ewan@cumulus.com by email or it can be mailed to:
o WJBC Brotherhood Tree
o 236 Greenwood Avenue
o Bloomington, IL 61704
· Deadline for referrals is November 29th. Late referrals cannot be accepted.
LINKS FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: