CARE Christmas brings cheer to families


CRESCO - Christmas is a time for children. A time of anticipation of Santa Claus visiting and bringing gifts after weeks of anticipation. Unfortunately for many parents, Christmas is a time of stress, as they choose paying bills or buying gifts for their children. 
The CARE Program is a 501 (3)c non-profit organization that tries to take that stress down a notch by helping families in need with Christmas gifts. This year they were distributed during the weekend of Dec. 9-10.
“We are the organizers, the people who try to make sure our families in need have the best Christmas we can give them,” said one CARE Board member. “The real champions for our families are the generous businesses, churches, organizations and individuals who make someone else’s Christmas part of theirs. We couldn’t do this without our community. It would be impossible.”
This year, now the 10th for CARE Christmas, there were new and welcome faces who came on board to help 50 families in Howard County. Helping means providing gifts for not only children, but a family gift, as well as personal/cleaning/paper and laundry products. It is quite an undertaking; but for many it is a great way to give back.
“My children and I shop together to buy the gifts for the young children that were assigned to our family,” said one local business owner, whose family has adopted a CARE family since the Christmas program began. 
“We really enjoy this and look forward to it every year.”
The weekend started with the gathering and dropping off of gifts. After gifts are either collected or delivered to the Featherlite Building at the Howard County Fairgrounds, volunteers work to place and check off items to the families that match the gifts. It can be quite an undertaking, but with each passing year, it seems to come easier, as the organization has come to rely on steadfast volunteers.
After lists are complete, families are called to pick up their unwrapped gifts and write a “thank you,” to whoever adopted their family.
The biggest payoff for the board that spends several months putting together the event comes from seeing the eyes of appreciation as well as words of heartfelt thanks from the families they help.
And talk about stepping up and helping.
Numerous unexpected donations came forward this year, as well as in the past. A mom and daughter duo, from LeRoy, Minn., donated 50 hats and mittens to CARE Christmas this year. Their efforts go under the name of the Mitten Project. Hats and mittens are handmade from recycled clothing items as well as new material. The only thing they ask in return is that “you help continue our mission by ‘paying it forward’ and helping someone in need.” They have donated throughout southeast Minnesota and crossed the border into Iowa with their wonderful generosity.
And that same generosity is seen in Howard County with Sandy Moore of Cresco. She donated 20 baby and children’s lap quilts. 
The quilts had assorted themes as well as sizes to suit most any young person. 
She had the help of Connie Zahasky, who donated much of the material used in the quits.
Additionally, Joan Skretta of Angelic Surprises donated several boxes of seasonal items. Skretta has made it a yearly tradition to help with CARE Christmas. 
Board members consider a local bank employee from Cresco “an elf” who donated a box full of assorted toys. There were other donations, including monetary as well.
How does it affect our families in need? Just read.
“Thank you so much for your help this year,” said one single mom. “I have three children and work as much as I can, but it’s still really tough at this time of year. With this Christmas Program I know my children will have a better Christmas than I alone could have given them.”
Another parent simply said, “God bless you for your generosity and caring you have shown to my family.”
CARE is not the only organization that helps out those in need in Howard County.
Other efforts include the Back to School Program (backpacks and school supplies), the Winter Warmth Program (working with the Howard-Winneshiek Elementary School to provide boots, coats and snow pants). Monetary donations are appreciated as well as the gifts that are donated each year and can be mailed to: CARE, PO Box 323, Cresco, IA. 
Merry Christmas everyone!

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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