Tree Of Life: Spreading boughs, support across South County

South County Community Services staff and volunteers with the refurbished trees.

By Danna Downing

South County Community Services (SCCS) has a long history – over 40 years – of being available to serve families who live in the six townships referred to as “South County.” Typically, a third of these residents live below the poverty line or have serious difficulties meeting basic needs such as food, utilities, housing, transportation and health care expenses on a dependable basis. Holidays are always a special challenge for families with limited resources. This year, with the pandemic, more families than ever are needing help.

The Tree of Life fundraiser was developed eight years ago to support seasonal and yearlong needs of those who have trouble making ends meet when life-altering circumstances create new challenges for their families. The intention of Tree of Life is to provide community members a way to express love and appreciation to family and friends while giving the gift of timely emergency assistance to those who need it most. A decorated ornament and recognition of affection and respect in the South County Newspaper is an affordable gift that never requires a gift exchange after the holidays – that’s a frequent observation from those who purchase ornaments.

For 2020, the trees have been refurbished and brand-new hand-decorated ornaments will be available for purchase. “We are excited to announce that the Village of Climax and the Climax United Methodist Church are partnering to sponsor a tree at the four-corners in the Village of Climax,” said SCCS Executive Director Drew Johnson. The agency has always enjoyed strong support from area churches and at the township and municipality level. However, this year, Donna Smith, project chair from Climax, reminds us, “it is more important than ever to be sure all residents know that there are resources available to help during these critical times.” It is also important for those in a position to donate some relief to know that SCCS is a United Way agency dedicated to connecting the funds raised with the families who have the greatest needs. The Ladies Library in the Village of Schoolcraft is also sponsoring a tree again this year in front of its historic building just to the south of the Schoolcraft post office. The contact person in Schoolcraft is Jackie Skinner.

Call 269-649-2901 to obtain an order form, place an order or learn more about this project. There is a downloadable order form online at as well. Persons who would like to help decorate ornaments are also welcome to call the same number.

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