Oct. 2015 Jefferson Award: Katie Clay - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Oct. 2015 Jefferson Award: Katie Clay

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ANTIGO (WAOW) - A childhood memory continues to inspire an Antigo woman to make the holidays brighter for children from needy families.

Katie Clay founded The Giving Tree 24 years ago -- a way for people to buy a Christmas gift after choosing a child's name from trees set up in businesses.

"It's all about the kids. I just like them to have a good Christmas," Clay said.

For her kindness and generosity, Clay is the October Jefferson Award winner. 

The Giving Tree hosted a loaded baked potato lunch Oct. 23 to raise money for the project. "I am so appreciative of the volunteers that help me. I couldn't do it without my friends my family," Clay said.

Patty Pellman and friends enjoyed the lunch. Through her work in the schools, Pellman has witnessed how the Christmas kindness makes a difference.

"There is a lot of poverty in this town," Pellman said. "It makes the kids look forward to something that they might get something for Christmas."

Clay said when she was 12, her family faced financial troubles. Her mother explained there would be no presents. Then another family stepped in and bought them gifts.

That kindness inspired Clay to help others for the first time.

"The following year, my brothers and I, we got together, babysitting money and paper route money, and we helped another family," Clay recalled.

To reach more needy families, Clay set up The Giving Tree and she and her volunteers have provided thousands of holiday gifts throughout Langlade County over the years.

She encourages others to find a way to pay it forward - either with money or time to volunteer.

It's all about "just love and giving help to your neighbor," Clay said.
       

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