Nary an inch of green is visible on the 7-foot Christmas tree in the Peconic Bay Medical Center gift shop. There are no lights or ornaments.
Instead, the tree looks like a mound of laundry.
Since Nov. 14, the PBMC Auxiliary has been collecting gloves, mittens and hats for children in need this holiday season. Each item was placed on the tree as a decoration, many by those who donated. On Monday, after a month of donations, the tree was overflowing with items.
Thelma Booker, president of the PBMC Auxiliary, and Joan Fehling, director of volunteer services and the gift shop manager, have been busy maintaining the tree and all the donations. They said last year they collected coats to give to community members in need and this year they decided to try something a little different.
“It’s unbelievable,” Ms. Fehling said about the number of items they have collected. She said their goal was to collect 400 pairs and she estimates they far surpassed that number.
Ms. Booker said some items are stuffed underneath and inside the branches.
To help spread the word, they sent emails to the staff at the hospital and the hospital’s foundation department sent out emails to the community.
“Everybody worked together to do this,” Ms. Fehling said. “We have a good feeling about this.”
Ms. Booker said the items will be donated to an array of local charities and organizations, such as St. David’s Day School in Riverhead, Pine Tree Day Nursery in Riverhead, Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch in Riverhead, Little Flower Children Family Services in Wading River, and the Long Island Head Start programs in Southampton and Riverhead. They will be distributing the items the week before Christmas.
Ms. Booker said she liked seeing different members of the community get involved, especially children. The Rocky Point Cub Scout Pack 6249 donated about 20 to 25 pairs of gloves and took a trip to the hospital to put them on the tree themselves.
“It brings joy to my heart to see that we are thinking about the children in our community,” Ms. Booker said.