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Park district tree stands tall against bullying

GENEVA – Given an opportunity to raise money for the Geneva History Center and its own charitable cause, the Geneva Park District also seized the moment to make a statement.

The park district’s entry in the history center’s Giving Tree program is “Working Together to Stop Bullying.” Traci Wicks, the park district’s marketing supervisor, said it was an opportunity to raise awareness. The tree was decorated by participants in the district’s Kid Zone program, which is a before- and after-school program for students in Geneva elementary schools.

Wicks said that bullying has been “such a buzzword,” and it seemed to be a good fit.

“I was just reading a lot of the articles, and there have been a lot of workshops that our staff has attended,” said Wicks, adding those working on the decoration “wanted to be proactive and get the kids to unite” on the project.

The Giving Tree program is in its fifth year at the history center. Nonprofit groups that serve the Geneva area are invited to decorate Christmas trees that are displayed at the center. This year, there are 15 trees decorated. The public is invited to vote with donations, and the organization that receives the most donations will keep all of the donations. The others will split donations evenly with the history center.

Terry Emma, the executive director of the Geneva History Center, noted the park district’s tree, saying it was “wonderful and all done by the kids.” She said all the trees set up by the agencies are “fabulous.” And the trees will be a huge draw next week when Emma expects more than 2,000 people to visit the center during the Geneva Christmas Walk.

“It’s wonderful,” she said. “We love it.”

All trees are viewable at the history center’s website – – and donations can be made online.

Other trees will raise funds for the American Cancer Society, Ecker Center for Mental Health, Finally Home Holistic Recovery and Adoption, Fox Valley Troop Support, Fox Valley Volunteer Hospice, Geneva Academic Foundation, Geneva Kiwanis Club, Girl Scouts of the USA, Greater Geneva Art Guild, Marklund, Mothers Club of Geneva, NAMI DKK, TriCity Family Services and VNA Health Care.

Wicks said money raised by the park district will go toward the district’s scholarship fund, which provides financial assistance for those in need who wish to participate in the district’s programs.

Emma said the Finally Home Holistic Recovery tree has been receiving a lot of attention, and she suspects that the group is following a proven path to success. She said it’s clear that supporters have contacted potential donors and asked them to participate.

“If you want to win, that’s what it really takes,” Emma said. “Boom, boom, boom, Paypal [payments] start arriving here. They’re doing a great job.”

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