Christmas for Kids, which had been divided into a northern group and a southern group in northern Crow Wing County, is combining efforts to create a single entity to bring Christmas to the less fortunate.
Katie Wagener had been running the southern organization essentially on her own, based out of her home in Lake Shore. She will now work with a committee from the northern group, based out of Crosslake, to continue the same effort that Christmas for Kids has always had.
Wagener said that combining efforts will be an improvement to the organization, which is a 501(c) 3 non-profit. Whereas Wagener’s southern branch of Christmas for Kids had been serving 86 families with a crew of only one, the northern branch found itself with fewer families but a larger group of volunteers to run the program, Wagener said.
Wagener said anyone can nominate a family they believe is in need of Christmas for Kids services. Applications are available at the Pequot Lakes Chamber of Commerce building, the Nisswa Chamber of Commerce office and Schaefer’s Foods in Nisswa. All of those locations also serve as dropoff points for donations.
The biggest change from the merger, Wagener said, is that there will now be a deadline for applications. Wagener said that in the past, she’d accepted families who needed help up to a week before Christmas. In order to finish shopping on time and put packages together, this year Christmas for Kids will accept applications until Dec. 10.
Each member of a family in the program gets a new outfit, a set of pajamas and one or two items from their wish list. The family also gets a holiday meal with all the trimmings, Wagener said.
Cash donations serve the program the best, Wagener said, but new, unwrapped toys or gifts for kids of all ages are appreciated.
“It doesn’t have to be toys because we have a lot of teenagers, too,” Wagener said. There are also infants in the program.
She said Christmas for Kids will still have its annual wrapping party to wrap gifts the week before Christmas, but the party will now include the Crosslake group. Area police officers will continue to deliver gifts on Christmas Eve morning, as they have in the past.
For more information about program applications, donations or to volunteer at the gift wrapping party, contact Wagener at 218-851-2211.