Gifting to children: County employees helping more than 100 children
Published 1:01 pm Saturday, December 5, 2015
Mower County Health and Human Services employees wrapped presents in their office at the Mower County Government Center in one of the last steps of a program to make sure some needy children have presents to open this holiday season.
County employees came together in recent weeks to help ensure that more than 100 children in foster care in Mower County will be able to unwrap presents on Christmas, and many county employees jumped at the chance to get involved with their Holiday Giving Program.
“I absolutely love Christmas and anything to benefit all the kids in our community is just awesome,” said Beth Nelson, an office support specialist in Health and Human Services who who served on a four-person committee that also included Whitney Farr, Lindsey Brekke and Annette Ekoue, to lead the Holiday Giving Program.
Email newsletter signup
While the program has been around for many years, county employees took the lead and on the program this year. In the past, churches helped with the program, but many are focused on their own programs this year. That got more county employees involved this year, and Brekke, the Social Services Supervisor, estimated the county is getting gifts for about 20 more children this year.
“I think all in all we’re able to help more kids,” said Brekke, who also served on the committee to run the program.
Along with the committee that organized the program, Brekke estimated more than 100 county employees stepped up to buy presents for the children.
Social workers identified children in foster care and wrote down information about the child — age, likes, favorite color, etc. — on a tag that was attached to a Christmas tree outside Health and Human Service’s main conference room. Staff then came up and picked out a kid to buy a present for.
Nelson, who’s youngest child is 11, said it was fun to shop for a toddler.
While children will get traditional gifts like toys, books and movies, they’ll also get some basic items, which Brekke noted many people often take for granted. Each child will get a cinch sack with his or her name embroidered on it, a pillow and a pillowcase.
Brekk and others sorted through the toys this week to make sure all the children got a roughly equal number of presents.
Along with sending out a brochure to all county employees, the committee contacted some business people and community partners to help.
Old 218 donated embroidery services, Calico Hutch donated pillow cases, Younkers donated gift boxes and Walmart donated pillows.
Brekke noted that county employees and community members were quick to give back.
“I think it was easy to find people to help out this holiday season,” she said.
Brekke and Nelson were happy to get other departments involved, and Nelson guessed that someone from each county department participated.
Though the county workers seemed to come together around the drive, it was really about the kids. Brekke noted that there are many children in need in the community and this is one of Mower County’s ways to help out this holiday season.
Plus the holidays can be tough for children in foster care who are away from their homes.
Though it’s difficult for some children to be in foster care, Brekke said many children are resilient.
“I think it’s tough,” Brekke said. “Children are probably the most resilient out of all of us. I think they find ways to adapt and find ways to make things better. “
While Brekke said foster parents are great at getting kids back to some semblance of normalcy, she said the drive is a way to help out.
Drives likely won’t end with the holiday season, as Nelson noted they’re looking to possibly do other drives to get things like diapers for children in foster care.
Brekke said Health and Human Services is always looking for families interested in getting involved and becoming foster families. Anyone interested can call Brekke at 507-437-9701.