About Us

An Idea is Born

When my daughter, Lauren was five and my son, Bobby was three, we went shopping at the mall.  It was the 1995 holiday season and the Salvation Army had its Christmas Giving Tree on display, decorated with paper angels that described children in need of holiday gifts.

When I explained this to them, they started asking questions.
Who are the poor people?” “Where do they live?” “Why are they poor?” “What can we give them to help them not be poor?” Beyond that, I could sense their real concern, "Mom how can we help?"

We sat down at the kitchen table and over pretzels and apple juice came up with a plan.

Our Plan

We contacted several not-for-profit social service agencies and asked for a list of their clients who would like holiday gifts.  It would be totally anonymous.  We would need just three pieces of information:

  • The recipient's initials       
  • A brief personal description
  • The holiday gift they would like

Next, we created tags that looked like flames to symbolize the lighting of lives with hope and wrote the descriptions on them.  The flames also represented the flames of a Chanukah menorah and the lights on a Christmas tree. 

We asked friends and family if they would “adopt a flame” and get a gift for the person described on the flame  for the holidays. Our family bought gifts as well.

We told donors to pick “a flame” that spoke to their heart. My kids did not grow up with a grandfather so we always bought gifts for the elderly men. Twenty people donated 49 gifts that first year.

Eleven months later, we were again driving by the mall and the kids started asking, “Who will we help this year?” Our friends called wondering if we were doing the “flames-thing” again this year. So I said, “Sure, why not." 

Making A Difference

Every year since 1995, we’ve "adopted" additional agencies, helped more needy neighbors and recruited more donors.  These generous people can’t wait to start shopping for people they don’t know and never will.  Now almost 23 years later, we provide almost 2,000 gifts each holiday season, over 15,000 gifts overall ....a growing circle of giving ....of caring.... of sharing. 

Please join our growing caring Flames of Giving community by:

Sari Gross
Founder and Executive Director, Flames of Giving


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