Friday, December 10, 2010

Gifts for Winona spreads holiday cheer

By Rebekah Hoeger

Cardinal Staff

With Christmas approaching quickly, students at Saint Mary’s University are studying diligently to finish the semester while parents are preparing for their kids to come home. Some families, though, are more worried about finding affordable presents for their loved ones to enjoy.

Gifts for Winona is a program that has been going on for nine years. This program helps local families by providing presents in their time of need. According to Laurie Haase, a program organizer, the program serves 1000 individuals and 400 families. Every Christmas, community members donate presents, leaving them at trees located in the area. This year, volunteers placed trees at the Winona Public Library, Saint Mary’s Hall, Scrapper’s Haven and all three Seversen-Sinclair gas stations.

Items ranging from blankets to snowshoes to dolls are collected and wrapped with the help of volunteers. The gifts are distributed on Dec. 14 from the Valencia Arts Center.

“My favorite thing is that these people who are a little down on luck get to have whatever is on their list,” said Haase. “It’s personalized for each person.”

Not only do the receivers of these gifts benefit from the personalized program, but volunteers do as well. Receiving the satisfaction of helping one another during Christmas season keeps the program running year fater year.

“When you see people pick up gifts on distribution night and their eyes light up, it really warms your heart,” said Haase.

Photo by Leah Mueller

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