Natalie Richards read the rose-colored tag, smiled and picked it off the HCC Giving Tree.
It said: "anything Minnie Mouse; anything princess; books."
"I'm the perfect person for that," said Richards, an HCC student from Granby and president of the Student Senate. "I love princesses, Minnie Mouse and books. I also love shopping."
Thanks to Richards, some anonymous little girl will have a much happier holiday.
The gift tag Richards selected is one of 306 red, pink, yellow and gray tags decorating three Giving Trees at HCC this holiday season. The gifts purchased by members of the HCC community will go to support children, elders and veterans at four local nonprofit agencies: the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, WestMass Elder Care, Homework House and the Holyoke Soldiers Home.
HCC's 17th annual Giving Tree campaign opened yesterday with a reception and tree unveiling. It closes on Dec. 15 with the presentation of gifts to representatives from each of the four agencies.
"George Frost, HCC's first president, liked to say that the whole point of this place is to make sure no one gets left behind," said interim president Bill Fogarty. "When you look at these groups, that's exactly what we're trying to avoid — leaving people behind, so this is something you should feel really good about participating in. This is helping people who really need it."
Giving Trees are located in the main lobby on the third floor of the Frost Building and in the HCC Library on he second floor of Donahue. This year there is also a small Giving Tree in the lounge area on the second floor of the Kittredge Center.
To participate, choose a tag from any one of the Giving Trees; write your name and contact information on the bottom half of the tag; tear that part off and deposit it into the Giving Tree box next to the tree; buy the gift; wrap it; attach the top part of the tag with a piece of tap and bring it to Nelson Lopez in the President's Office on the third floor of the Frost Building by Dec. 7.
Questions should be directed to Gail Golas, the Giving Tree campaign chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 552-2270.
PHOTOS by CHRIS YURKO: (Left) HCC student Jonathan Mendez checks out a gift tag on the HCC Giving Tree. (Right) HCC Student Senate president Natalie Richards holds up the gift tag she chose from the Giving Tree.