The Giving Tree at Harvard Law School: A Big Success

BY LAM HO

Students working to organize the Giving Tree program.
Some of the many gifts donated through the Giving Tree at Harvard Law School.

“Big ups to all my peeps at the “Giving Tree.” Yo!! Ya’ll were really on the ball with the fresh gear you sent…My gift was really the bomb!!!”

“I’d just like to offer a sincere Thank You. Thanks from the bottom of my heart.”

“May you have the same joy you brought me!”

These are some of the words of gratitude expressed by the recipients of gifts from the Giving Tree at Harvard Law School. In its second year, the HLS Giving Tree, presented by the Dean of Students Office, HL Central, and the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, raised over 550 gifts for the children of families served by Harvard Law School’s clinical and pro-bono programs–twice as many gifts as in its inaugural year. Overall, 71 families received holiday gifts from the HLS Giving Tree.

Clients from the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, Hale & Dorr Legal Services Center, Tenant Advocacy Project, and R.O.A.D. (Reaching Out About Depression) received presents for their children that included Playstation videogames, iPods, clothing, and baby strollers. The gifts were collected from Harvard Law School students, faculty, and staff from December 1st through December 20th. From December 20th to the 24th, the gifts were picked up from either the Legal Aid Bureau or the Legal Services Center in Jamaica Plain. Gifts were delivered to the homes of clients who were unable to pick them up.

The recipients of the gifts sent cards, made phone calls, gave big hugs, and even created a scrapbook, but it was the expressions on the faces of the women, men, and children who received the gifts, some of whom cried, that best captured the appreciation they felt. Being able to witness these moments also provided great satisfaction to the organizers of the HLS Giving Tree, who felt rewarded for their hard work. Along with coordinators Lam Ho and Emily Broad, Allison Barrows, Ruth Bray, and Rochelle Lee assisted with purchasing, gift-wrapping, and delivering the gifts. Invaluable contributions were also made by Michael Fournier in the Events Office, Susana Arteta at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, and Sara Roitman at Harvard Defenders.

Additionally, the 1L sections made enormous contributions to the Giving Tree. Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7 all “sponsored ” several families and purchased all the items on the family wishlists. Altogether, these sections donated over one -third of the presents. Under the leadership of 1L Lindsay Breedlove, Section 6 raised over $1400 and fulfilled the wishes of 21 children; they even wrapped all the gifts!

Some additional gifts were also purchased through funds donated by firm sponsors: Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton LLP; Kirkland & Ellis LLP; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP; Sullivan & Cromwell LLP; Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal LLP; and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP–Boston Office.

And it was not only the clients who were grateful for the gifts; the clinical and pro-bono programs involved with the Giving Tree appreciated the opportunity to assist their clients beyond their usual legal services. Many clinical instructors and students expressed delight at being able to help out in an additional and different way, beyond the usual scope of law school clinical work, especially during the financially and emotionally difficult holiday period. All of the programs are excited to continue and expand their involvement with the Giving Tree in upcoming years.

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