Introducing our newest Board Members! Andrea, jane, karen, sachi, taya

These five amazing women (girl power!) are our newest Board Members here at Family Giving Tree. Read on and press the play button to find out how they first got involved with our organization, what keeps them coming back, and what they are doing to stay busy during the shelter-in-place.

(9 min. read)

Andrea Borch

I first got involved with FGT when a friend at my (then) third grade son’s class asked our family to volunteer for the 2007 HWD. We had not heard of FGT previously. Upon entering the warehouse for the first time, we saw thousands of gifts in piles and hundreds of volunteers sorting and working to get the gifts ready for distribution. It was a humbling experience. We were moved by the incredible generosity of people and the important role FGT plays in the community. We realized we wanted to be part of this effort, and my family has gone on to lead drives and provide backpacks and holiday gifts in the years since. Also, we have asked anyone – family, friends, friends of friends, the soccer team, the Girl Scout troop – to work at the warehouse with us and/or donate backpacks and holiday gifts. Most people are so happy to learn about FGT, their work, and to help out.

I love that FGT has dedicated itself to meeting people’s basic needs through the holiday wish drive and backpack drives. FGT has fulfilled its mission very well for decades now. Within the next year or two, FGT will deliver its 2 millionth holiday gift! This is an incredible achievement. Besides providing holiday gifts and backpacks, FGT gives people hope and lets them know someone cares about them. FGT works at the grassroots level, meeting people from all different backgrounds and helping them in a meaningful and compassionate manner. I also appreciate that anyone (volunteer or donor) can play a role in helping FGT succeed in its mission. Every donation of time and/or money supports FGT’s programs.

My parents and grandparents showed me and my siblings how meaningful and important it is to be generous and how easily people can help others. My relatives gave generously of their time, talent and money. Their examples started my journey of seeing generosity in public and private ways from learning to be generous, being grateful I can help, identifying and helping organizations that can make an impact, to inspiring others to accept the invitation to be generous themselves. One of my favorite stories of generosity is the example of a professional football player in Florida who last December gave $80,000 to settle the outstanding accounts of 300 Walmart shoppers.

During the shelter in place, my family has been cooking together and eating at the kitchen table just about every night since mid-March, walking our dog, working out in the garage, reading, watching movies on TV, doing jigsaw puzzles, and fostering a mom dog and her 8 puppies. (We ended up being a “foster success” and adopted one of the puppies!) I have enjoyed seeing the beautiful blue sky, hearing birds sing, and spending time thinking about what comes next. We hope we are not going “back to normal,” but instead “back to better.” We have this opportunity to make changes. The question is: “How can we do things differently and better?” I hope many people feel the same way and will work for change wherever they can.

Jane Hext

"From that initial tour of the warehouse back in December, when it just seemed to be a whirlwind of activity going on as all the elves prepped various gifts, I knew that this was the organization I wanted to be part of. This was an organization I knew I could make a difference with."

Karen Lenoski

Karen is a long term supporter and fan of Family Giving Tree. She has worked for many years as an angel elf for both the Back-to-School Drive and the Holiday Wish Drive, even taking on the role of managing the Warehouse Store for the 2018 Holiday Wish Drive. No small task when 80,000+ gifts get processed! She has further supported the FGT mission by assisting at backpack drop-off events, volunteering in the warehouse, assembling Drive Leader packets, building wish card perfect packs, and giving financially.

She conducted her first BTS drive in 2018, collecting 248 backpacks and garnering her the “Teachers Pet” award as a NEW Drive Leader. In 2019 she chose to collect backpacks for 6-8th graders exclusively—one segment that is often underserved—collecting 166 backpacks. She plans to support middle-schoolers again in 2020.

A real pleasure to have around, Karen is fun and funny. She likes to laugh and brings a sense of joy into all she does. She loves to travel and usually takes a few weeks in the summer to visit far off places. While the pandemic has definitely curtailed that activity, she has all the wonderful memories from past excursions to carry her through these isolating times.

It was a natural progression in her association with FGT to ask her to take on the role of a Board Member. She has been familiar with the organization long enough to add value to meetings while at the same time she is in touch with her community and others like her who have the ability to volunteer and assist in other ways.

New to board service, Karen is excited to learn about the new role and responsibilities she’s taken on and is anxious to lend her hand in helping the 30-year old Family Giving Tree survive and thrive.

Sachi Patel

"I was introduced to this organization a few years ago through our office Holiday Drive and was touched that this organization is just trying to spread joy to those kids that may be living in poverty and have them experience some things that you and I may take for granted during the holidays or even going back to school..."

Taya Zhou

"A spontaneous act of kindness is what makes our community and society a better place. I, myself benefited greatly from an act of generosity. I was awarded a scholarship for my graduate studies. Without people's generous donations to the school, without the scholarship, I would not have been able to come to the United States for my graduate studies, and I know how that education changed my life, so I also wanted to become someone that gives."

You can learn more about our Board of Directors here.

The Family Giving Tree envisions a world where Giving brings joy, offers hope and opens possibilities. By inspiring community kindness, generosity, and volunteerism, The Family Giving Tree fulfills exact holiday wishes and provides backpacks filled with STEAM-based school supplies to those in need. Click here to learn more and donate a backpack today.