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From left, Jayne McNeil, Jean Ray, Buffy Clark, Linda Hannah and Rachel Deal prepare a tree
at Newland Post Office for their 21st Gifts from the Heart, a project designed to give kind-
hearted Avery citizens the opportunity to brighten the cold winter days for the county’s
homebound elderly.
Photo by Matthew Hundley

Originally published: 2013-01-22 16:48:53
Last modified: 2013-01-22 16:48:53

Gifts from the Heart returns for 2013

Matthew Hundley / (

As they have each year for the past two decades, Gifts from the Heart trees have appeared at Newland Post Office, Linville Post Office and Cannon Memorial Hospital.

Each tree is draped with 40 to 50 hearts that describe an individual in need of a day-brightening gift basket during the coldest months of the year. 

To participate in Gifts from the Heart, visit one of the heart trees set up in the lobby of Cannon Memorial Hospital, Linville Post Office and Newland Post Office, choose a heart from the tree, sign your name and telephone number to the heart and bring the recommended care package back to the site for pickup by Friday, Feb. 1. At the post offices, leave baskets with the post office personnel during regular business hours. At Cannon Memorial Hospital, leave prepared baskets at the tree, where hospital personnel will pass them along to the group of ladies who work tirelessly each year to bring a gift from the heart of kind Avery citizens to homebound seniors around the area. 

Working together, five Avery County ladies, Linda Hannah, Jayne McNeil, Buffy Clark, Rachel Deal and Jean Ray, work each year to assemble the trees in an effort to collect care packages to brighten Valentine’s Day for elderly individuals who may not be able to leave their homes during the worst of the winter weather. 2013 will mark the 21st year for Gifts from the Heart.

“People take a heart or two, and fix up a package just to show that they care about the elderly; to give them a little cheer,” Ray said. “We started out with the geriatrics council, and we decided to do it in winter when elderly people can’t get out.”

“Some are bed-ridden,” McNeil added. “Most are shut it. They can’t get out. And that is the real purpose of it. We have a lot of caring people here in Avery County.”

For more information, call McNeil at (828) 737-0718 or Clark at (828) 733-1790.