KIN seeks secret shoppers
When Kids In Nebagamon was founded in 1992, its goal was to aid children near the village of Lake Nebagamon. It's grown to encompass the entire Maple school district, providing holiday cheer to about 100 children a year who teachers or churches h...
When Kids In Nebagamon was founded in 1992, its goal was to aid children near the village of Lake Nebagamon. It's grown to encompass the entire Maple school district, providing holiday cheer to about 100 children a year who teachers or churches have identified as being in need of a helping hand.
"A lot of them require warm coats, hats, mittens, gloves, snow pants, boots, things a lot of us take for granted," said KIN member Candi Stariha.
Last month, 102 children from 40 families the district - which stretches from South Range to Iron River, Cloverland to Highland - received gifts and a Christmas food basket through KIN.
"We had people from every community," Stariha said. "That's pretty typical over the years."
Donations and fundraisers pay for the gifts, and the organization relies on volunteers to do the shopping.
For years, those volunteers have included children. Members of the Horses R Us 4-H Club and high school students in the Trinity Lutheran Church youth group look forward to their annual chance to shop for others.
"They get so much out of it," said Paula Davis, one of the youth group leaders at the Lake Nebagamon church. "They love the feeling of giving back. It also teaches them financial responsibility and how to budget."
This year, 17 members of the youth group shopped for 18 children in need. They filed into the store armed with calculators and lists.
"It's unbelievable to watch them shop," Davis said. They compared, focused on quality items and used every last dollar of the allotted $100 per child.
This year, the spree took three hours. The kids made sure each recipient got fun extras along with needed items.
"The thing that really makes the kids think is when request are for winter boots and a hat," Davis said.
They brought their gifts back to the church to wrap, enlisting other church members in the process, seventh graders through grandparents.
"The whole church feels part of it," Davis said.
Mikayla Maijala with Horses R Us has been taking part in the annual shop for years.
"I think it's really fun," said the Poplar teen. "It makes me feel really good that I can make a difference, make somebody's Christmas better."
As KIN approaches its 25th anniversary, the nonprofit organization is seeking new faces.
"A lot of people volunteering have been doing it from the start," Stariha said. "We're trying to involve new, younger shoppers, new people to keep it going."
She rustled up extra help last month by posting the need through her Facebook page.
"It's amazing how much people want to give back," Stariha said.
The organization, created as a memorial to Margaret and Wally Urbaniak of Lake Nebagamon, hosts fundraisers throughout the year, with most of those dollars earmarked for the annual Christmas project.
For decades, founding member Kay Coletta championed the organization, writing news releases and raising public awareness. Although she died in last April, KIN continues to follow its mission to help others.
Members plan to take early aim at recruiting volunteers and spreading the word about KIN in 2017.
"We don't have a good website or Facebook presence at this point," Stariha said. "That is one of my goals for this year."
For more information or to get involved, contact Carol Mallegni at 218-591-1572.