Giving Tree helps kids cut winter’s cold

This Giving Tree will be set up through the winter at 645 Main St., out front of Deadwood Distillery, to help meet the winter accessory needs of area children. Pioneer photo by Jaci Conrad Pearson

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DEADWOOD — When Deadwood Distillery Manager Shawn Dardis sat back and took notice, she discovered that many children frequenting Main Street were ill-equipped to endure the harsh winter weather the Hills doles out.

Her solution? 

A Giving Tree set up outside her 645 Main St. place of employment.

“I put a note on it, “Need one? Take one! Have one? Leave one!”

Hats, gloves, socks, and even the occasional pair of slippers are all items that hang from the branches. Items she’s noticed that adults are donning, but kids are going without.

“I just refilled it Sunday and this morning, there are just four items left,” Dardis said, Wednesday, adding that around 25 items put out at a time, normally on Sundays, disappear rather quickly.

“You know, it’s also tourists. People who aren’t prepared for the weather changing so rapidly,” she said.

Dardis, who had a career working with troubled youth, said seeing kids going without winter weather necessities prompted her to action.

“Kids get to me,” she said.

But one incident in particular was the driving force behind the Giving Tree.

“There was one little boy who really inspired all this,” Dardis said.

When a young child who lost his parents on Main Street sat shivering outside the shop on a bench with complete strangers and no coat on, she brought them all inside and contacted law enforcement, warming the child up with a sweatshirt off the rack.

“When the parents were found, there were four other children, same thing. No coats, no gloves, no hats. And it was cold out,” Dardis said. “So that was it.”

Since that time, she’s monitored the activity the Giving Tree has seen from a camera set up inside the business and the items are going to the intended audience.

“It’s kids taking them,” she said. “And it if keeps them warm, that’s what I’m after.”

Keeping the tree stocked became challenging, but she shared her project with neighboring Main Street businesses and they eagerly jumped on board to help.

“It was at the Main Street Initiative promotions meeting and we joked that it will be up until May,” Dardis said, adding that the tree will be up until it warms up next spring.

Right now, Dardis does her best to keep the tree populated with Dollar Store items, but welcomes any help she can get. To provide assistance, call Dardis at 645-9953 or stop by Deadwood Distillery.

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