The Jubilee Giving Tree

Area Seniors Support Children in Kinship Care

For 12 years, Christmas has been a brighter for local children because of the work of Mary Jo Rice and a service group of about 10 core members she leads at Jubilee Retirement Community in Lacey.

She has been part of the group for 15 years, leading it for the last 12. She especially wanted to help during Christmas and realized she is living among a population that also has a heart for giving.

“We have a lot of grandparents living here who want to take care of kids,” she said.

It seemed like a good fit to team up with Lynn Urvina, who manages FESS’ Kinship Navigator Program.

Lynn and her team constantly interact with grandparents and other relatives raising their grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins. Relative caregivers often lack the kind of support it takes to raise children.

Thus, the idea of a community Giving Tree at Jubilee was born. Lynn collects the information about needs and wants of children living with relatives and passes it along to Mary Jo, who hangs tags with the information on a tree during the holidays. Residents can take one of the requests and fulfill it. The Jubilee group tries to put a limit of about $30 on each request.

“Lynn makes it so easy,” Mary Jo said of their partnership.

The work is especially important this year, since many grandparents are wary of going outside because of Covid.

About 100 children are already signed up for gifts, with more expected in the coming weeks.


For more information about Kinship Care