By MADDY VITALE
A Christmas tree in the lobby of the Ocean City Community Center isn’t decorated with the traditional brightly colored ornaments and garland.
Instead, mittens, gloves, hats, and scarves adorn the tree, which is aptly named, “The Tree of Warmth.” The tree is part of a donation drive organized by the Colony Club of Ocean City in collaboration with the Ocean City Free Public Library.
And even though the donation drive just began Monday, generous people in the community have already added their “decorations” to the tree of new or gently used clothing.
The clothing drive runs through Dec. 18. After that time, the donations will be delivered to the Ecumenical Council Clothes Closet for those less fortunate to select what they need to help keep them warm this winter.
“This is a very giving community all the way around,” Colony Club member Cathy Ferber said Monday. “I think we’ve always donated about 300 items to the Clothes Closet from the drive each year. We’ve been told that those items have been out of the building as quickly as they come into the Clothes Closet.”
The Colony Club has been in existence since the 1950s. In 2016, a member came up with the idea to decorate a tree and use it for drop-offs of donations for the worthy cause.
In addition to the donated items are purple clothes pins on the branches that hold Colony Club brochures.
On Monday, the Colony Club members formally put their brochures on the tree and hung up a poster detailing what the Tree of Warmth is and that the items go to the Ecumenical Council Clothes Closet.
“When we got there this morning, there was already a lot on the tree,” Ferber noted. “We put some things on the tree so people got the idea. But it is to the point now where it is like people just know. It is a tradition and they will leave their donations there.”
Ferber said that staff members inside the Community Center, especially Library Director Karen Mahar, help make the donation drive successful year after year.
“Karen Mahar made up a flyer and helped with the publicity,” she said. “It is always a joy to work with the library staff.”
Ferber was in charge of the Tree of Warmth donation drive last year. This year, it is fellow Colony Club member Carol Evans.
On the morning of Monday, Dec. 18, Evans and other Colony Club members will collect, sort, pack and count everything and Evans will take the items to the Clothes Closet.
Ferber said that while Dec. 18 is the delivery date for the items, people can still donate.
“We often still have people leave things and the library collects them and ships them right to the Clothes Closet,” she said.
There are currently 65-plus members of the Colony Club. The focus of the organization is giving out scholarships during the year, but it also helps nonprofit organizations.
The club hosts a large fundraiser in June each year. This year Ferber will be in charge of the fashion show, which is geared to generate funds to give out.
“We are always looking for new members to laugh and have fun and make friends. It is a very supportive group,” Ferber said. “All you need is an interest. We have members from Ocean City, Margate, Somers Point, and Ocean View.”
For more information about the Colony Club, visit them on Facebook or at www.colonyclubocnj.com.