If you’re looking to start the holiday season in the spirit of giving, get excited for the return of the Giving Trees, a form of gift drive that appears all over our community near the end of every year. 

At Village Books and Paper Dreams, the Giving Trees program gets books to people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford them. Village Books works with a dozen organizations, including Northwest Youth Services and the Opportunity Council, who need different types of books. The needs are translated into angel tags, which customers can find on trees at both the Fairhaven and Lynden locations. 

Customers are free to shop and pick out the books they’d like to donate, and Village Books picks up 20% of the cost upon checkout. When shoppers are having trouble choosing, Owner Paul Hanson suggests sharing a favorite book from their own childhood. 

“[If you] love Curious George, some other kid will, too. And you’ll be passing that gift along to them,” says Hanson.  

Another spin on this community aid is the Salvation Army’s Angel Trees program. They focus on families with children ages 0-14, and instead of books, they collect toys that the kids request.  

“When these families come on their designated day to pick up toys, their whole life lights up,” says Lt. Chase Green of the Whatcom County Salvation Army. “Maybe it seems like it’s short term, because we’re providing toys, but in the end… that love and joy goes a heck of a long way.” 

Whatcom County’s Salvation Army provided toys to more than 1,300 kids last year, and they aim to increase those numbers this season. You can find their trees at the Bellis Fair Mall, the Walmart on Meridian, and at their facility.