The removal of a Christmas tree from the Orange County Superior courthouse Monday has prompted a petition among court employees to have the tree â€“ connected to a gift drive for poor children â€“ put back. The six-foot artificial tree, which was adorned with tags seeking toy donations to ‘Operation Santa Claus,’ was removed Monday after a member of the public complained about the tree being in the courthouse, court spokeswoman Gwen Vieau said.
“It’s a public building and we have to serve the diversity of our community,” she said.
The tree had been put up in the courthouse every holiday season for about 20 years, said Orange County Sheriff’s Special Officer Cynthia Guerrero, who runs the courthouse’s ‘Operation Santa Claus’ effort. She was ordered to take down the tree.
Members of the public would come and grab tags â€“ which sought donations for specific children. Last year, the courthouse got 374 presents for the toy drive.
But courthouse employees want the tree back up, and are circulating a petition among courtrooms. As of this afternoon, about 30 people had signed the petition.
“That tree holds the cards that contain the wishes and needs of those less fortunate than we are and shame on those who want to take that away from those of us who wish to give …” the petition says. “Now at the court’s darkest hour, our symbol of hope has been taken away from us.”
Though the tree is gone, the donation opportunity is still available. The courthouse has set up a table in the lobby for individuals who want to sponsor a needy child and provide him/her with a gift for the holidays.