Pawhuska schools are initiating a “Basic Needs” Angel Tree project as part of an effort to help cash-strapped local families make it through the holiday season,

Community donations of coats, socks, shoes, and others clothing items will be sought to assist with the project, high school counselor Olivia Chronister said.

Angel Trees are expected to be established by Wednesday in the school offices at PHS, Pawhuska Elementary and Indian Camp. Gifts will need to be returned to each of the offices by the end of the school day on Friday, Dec. 9, she stated.

According to Chronister, the schools developed the plan in response to a “void” they noticed in the Department of Human Services’ assistance programs, where “students who are not currently in foster care will not be placed on an Angel Tree list.”

“We wanted to help students who are needing to have basic needs met,” she said.

Chronister said school personnel hope the project might “alleviate the stress” that can be caused by families “having to purchase coats and shoes as Christmas presents.”

“This is our way of helping the families,” Chronister said. “Instead of spending their money on coats and socks, maybe now they’ll be able to buy their kid a toy or something,”

Teachers will provide names for lists that will be shared via Angel Tree projects at the schools.

“Everyone is welcome to come in and get an Angel from one of our trees,” Chronister said, adding that monetary donations “will be used to purchase clothing necessities.”

The “Basic Needs” Trees will remain on display at the schools through Dec. 9, the last day of classes before the Christmas break.

By supporting the project, members of the community “can provide everyday necessities that will reduce the daily burden for students and their families,” the couselor said.

“It’s a way of helping them meet those basic needs,” Chronister added.

Green Country Dental Arts of Pawhuska volunteered to provide toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss for each local student involved with the project.