AEI giving tree helps create a happier holiday for those in need

Decorated Christmas tree

The holiday season can be a stressful time of year, perhaps even more so for families in need. Faculty and staff at the UO’s American English Institute hope to brighten the season for these families through the institute’s holiday tree of giving.

The tree holds the names of 50 children from the “A” Team Justice League, a local nonprofit dedicated to helping families of children with autism through advocacy and support, and the Eugene Area Gleaners, a local nonprofit dedicated to connecting local families with food resources.

Brandy Collier, an eLearning assistant at the institute, came up with the idea as a way for the staff to give back. Partnering with “A” Team Justice League is a personal endeavor for Collier. She learned of the nonprofit after her daughter was diagnosed with autism.

“They have been an amazing resource for questions relating to pharmaceutical treatments, testing and just a lot of the stuff that comes along with the journey towards diagnosis and everything after,” Collier said.

Charli Pearson, a Eugene mom of four, has benefitted from both nonprofits.

“These gifts mean I do not need to choose between a dyslexia curriculum or a Christmas gift for my son,” Pearson said. “It gives me a brief window of time when I have fewer hard choices to make."

The tree is available in the lobby of Agate Hall, 1787 Agate St. Anyone is welcome to pick up a name, purchase a gift and bring it back, wrapped or unwrapped, with the tag attached for reference, by Dec. 20. 

For more information, contact Cheryl Ernst, executive director of the American English Institute, at or 541-346-2911.