Operation Gift a successAn outpouring of gifts entered the homes of 20 families in need this week. Baskets full of items collected through “Operation Gift” should be distributed by this afternoon.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
An outpouring of gifts entered the homes of 20 families in need this week. Baskets full of items collected through “Operation Gift” should be distributed by this afternoon.
The project began as a collaboration between Lake Superior Elementary School and members of the Douglas County Home and Community Education clubs to serve 50 children and their families.
“It grew,” said club member Sue Hendrickson.
Bernie Blakeley, who first lofted the idea for the project, said the 48-day journey has been studded with many wonderful, giving, interesting people. And the challenge, she said, was met.
Tuesday, a handful of volunteers stacked the items they collected — blankets, mittens, hats, scarves, books for all ages, school supplies, teddy bears, games and more. Then they “shopped” for items for each family. When Lake Superior Principal Mark Howard walked in, it took him a few minutes to process the magnitude of the gift.
“I don’t know what to say to you guys,” he said. “I really don’t know what to say.”
He was especially thankful for the books, provided by the Friends of the Superior Public Library, and the school materials from the Eagles Club. But Howard said all of the donations, from fleece blankets and toothbrushes to gift certificates and mittens, will help the children and their families. It can also improve their education.
“If their social emotional needs are met, learning becomes easier,” Howard said.
Times are tough right now, Hendrickson said, but individuals, organizations and businesses rallied around the project.
“More than I ever expected,” she said.
The Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College school of cosmetology supplied certificates for 60 free haircuts. Monetary donations allowed HCE to purchase a $30 Super One gift card for each family. The Optimist Club donated money for fleece blankets, which were tied by volunteers. The Four Corners Crafters made soft teddy bears for the toddlers. McDonald’s sent certificates for ice cream treats, A&W provided free kids meal certificates, gas cards were collected for the families with cars and much more.
“An important piece is our kids are learning from what we do,” Howard said. The gifts will provide tangible comfort along with intangible lessons.
“Kids who receive will know how that felt,” the principal said. “I know they will do that for others.”
Helping people help themselves by educational means is the basic purpose of the Wisconsin Association for Home and Community Education. Currently, there are about 60 active HCE members in Douglas County. They host quilt-a-thons, craft days and craft fairs as well as an annual display at the Head of the Lakes Fair. Blakeley said “operation Gift” fit the third part of the group’s mission statement: “caring to make a difference in our homes, communities and the world.”
“This is phenomenal group of women,” said Linda Bruce, HCE advisor and family living educator with UW-Extension. “They do just fantastic things for the community that most people aren’t even aware of.”
For information, contact UW-Extension at (715) 395-1363.