Goodhue County Christmas Project spreads joyAs children eagerly await Santa and admire wrapped packages under Christmas trees, some families who might not have had such a holiday now will thanks to the Goodhue County Christmas Project.
By: Danielle Killey, The Republican Eagle
As children eagerly await Santa and admire wrapped packages under Christmas trees, some families who might not have had such a holiday now will thanks to the Goodhue County Christmas Project.
The group, which has been around nearly 30 years, delivers toys, clothing and food to families in need throughout the area.
The program served about 300 families this year, said Mary Weberg, one of the organizers. The items were delivered or picked up by families this week.
Local churches, businesses, groups and service clubs and individuals “have come together to try to provide Christmas for families in need,” Weberg said. The participating organizations choose the number of families they can help each year and gather supplies to make their Christmas special.
Nearly 50 churches and about 25 other organizations have participated in the program, Weberg said.
“It’s a great opportunity for people to serve,” she said.
The group comes together just before Thanksgiving to work with providers and assign families, Weberg said.
“It’s a special time,” Weberg said. “It’s the joy of the season and someone else will hopefully have some joy.”
To find families, the group coordinates with Goodhue County’s social services to get applications out to those who might want to participate. Other entities such as schools also sometimes suggest families for consideration, Weberg said.
The project works in conjunction with Toys for Tots to gather toys for the children, and the organizations provide food and clothing for the families.
“It’s synthesized from countywide down to one location like a church,” Red Wing Area Food Shelf President Dee Bender said. “There’s a variety of ways that the items are collected.”
The Goodhue County Christmas Project started in 1983, Bender said. The group began by giving toys, clothes and food to needy residents in Goodhue County.
“They had things leftover after Christmas, so they decided to open a little mini food shelf in someone’s garage,” Bender said. Eventually the group shifted to become only a food shelf. The two entities — the food shelf and group that organizes the family donations — are technically still one entity, but have split when it comes to duties.
The food shelf does help families during the holidays as well.
The Goodhue County Christmas Project members use the opportunity to help the community and those who might have been hit by hard times, Weberg said.
“The families are so appreciative, and for those families they’re in a situation that they didn’t think they’d ever be in,” she said. “Some have said, ‘I hope next year I can be on the giving end instead of the receiving end.’"