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A Gratitude Tree

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A gratitude tree now grows upon the far wall of the Spring Hill Library, one that blooms forth from seeds of warmth, goodwill and artistic creativity. This exceptional bloom could also be called a “community tree!”

Those who visit the library, 9220 Spring Hill Dr., Spring Hill, from now through Nov. 30, can request an ebullient paper stock leaf in a classic seasonal color such as green, red, orange or gold, emblazoning the leaf with a few words that tell the community what they’re thankful for, and finally affixing it to an artistically grown paper tree that adorns the library wall. This activity is free and fun for all ages, requiring no preregistration.

“Stop by the Spring Hill Library to add leaves of gratitude and help our tree grow!” read a related event flier decorated with the image of a beautiful tree in bloom for autumn.

The gratitude tree was announced on Nov. 1, and within a day of its ‘planting,’ the community posted nearly 30 ‘thankful’ leaves on the tree. These messages ranged from “I’m grateful for God,” “I’m grateful for Jesus,” “I’m grateful for friends and life,” and “I’m grateful for my mom,” to “I’m grateful for this library,” “I’m grateful for treats,” and “I’m grateful for animals.”

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Others posted specific messages about the many blessings that grace their lives. These include “I’m grateful for ordinary days, impromptu laughter, and food delivery service.” “New home, healthy and loving family and friends, great library team that I get to lead and mentor,” “Country, God, Family and Freedom,” and “Treats, friends, all the fun books.”

“This is a group effort here at the library,” said Spring Hill Branch Supervisor Jennifer Hodges. “Barbara Baumstark, one of our librarian assistants, had the idea for the gratitude tree. She wanted to do something that would allow the community to express their gratitude. And she cut out every leaf from card stock and laminated the tree—the design she created with our IT department’s help.”

Baumstark, also the winner of the recent Book Pumpkin competition (in which library staff decorated Halloween pumpkins in the likeness of famous book characters), is thrilled to see the community’s response to the Gratitude Tree—where everyone from young children to library staff, businesspeople to senior citizens, has been posting their thankful leaves.

“It’s so awesome to see how the community responds,” she said. “This gives people the chance to show their appreciation.”

Hodges, for her part, is grateful for the generous and creative spirit of Barbara Baumstark and her entire staff. “She is always coming up with such great ideas and is truly the conscience of our library,” she said. “She and other staff members also put together a display representing things that they are thankful for, which now stands in the corner of the library.”

Hodges is most grateful for the gratitude of the Hernando community, as they herald the coming of Thanksgiving by giving many thanks of their own. “This is just perfect for the holidays,” she said. “It’s about giving thanks.”

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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