Christmas is a little brighter this year for more than one hundred families in the Tippecanoe Valley area after receiving assistance through the Miracle Tree program.

Miracle Tree is sponsored by Mill Creek Missionary Church and has been going strong for years in the Rochester area. Tippecanoe Valley teachers Darren Parker and Crystal Heckaman helped expand the program this year after noticing a growing need for it in the their school district.

“Our school corporation makes a great effort to care for kids at Christmas time, but we had so many programs going in so many directions. We wanted to combine all of our efforts into one massive project,” said Heckaman.

122 families in need were shopped for this Christmas. Families who expressed an interest in receiving help this year were assigned a number. Those numbers were then placed on ornaments and hung on trees inside Bell Memorial Public Library in Mentone and Akron Carnegie Public Library in Akron. The numbers let sponsors know how many children were in each family. Sponsors were then provided a wish list for the family they selected.

All of the gifts were presented to the families on December 14 at a special event that included food and activities for children.

The Tippecanoe Valley High School Student Council was one of the largest sponsors this year, adopting 10 families. Financial donations allowed the student council to purchase $100 worth of gifts for 48 people. In previous years, the student council would take elementary students shopping for Christmas, but decided on a new approach this year through the Miracle Tree program.

“We had a great crew of  students, staff, high school student council members, Mill Creek Missionary Church members, and  people in the community that came out to set up, serve food, help with various activities, and help tear down,” said Heckaman.

Several area businesses including The Log Cabin in Rochester, Viking Foods in Akron, Kroger in Rochester, Jarrety’s Place in Rochester, and photographer Shelly Craig donated their time and resources to help with the event.