Group seeks helping hands this holiday

Holiday Helping Hands seeks to make the upcoming holiday season a little less stressful for area families in need once again this year and organizers are hoping to enlist the generosity of local residents.

Mille Lacs County Family Services provided this help for nearly 25 years before cutting the program from its budget in 2010. Since then, coordinator Carla Bruggeman and others have taken up the cause.

“The main thing we want to stress is that there are many ways to help besides the churches and the collection box,” Bruggeman said of the effort.

In 2010, Holiday Helping Hands was able to help 426 children from 200 families celebrate the holidays with gifts their families were unable to purchase themselves. By 2011, those numbers had swelled to 502 children from 230 area families. With the economic conditions still sluggish, Bruggeman expects the numbers of families in need to be bigger yet this year.

The group has hosted garage sales during the summer in an effort to raise funds. It also plans a craft sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 at Barbara Jeans in Milaca, with proceeds going toward purchasing holiday gifts.

When the program split from the county two years ago, a financial host was sought until the organization could establish itself as an official non-profit/501c3. Trinity Lutheran Church in Milaca has provided its services as a financial host ever since.

County financial worker Dar Gould managed the program while it was still under the county’s purview,  and continues to do so in coordination with Trinity.

“She does most of the shopping, and she loves it,” Bruggeman said. “We shop locally as much as we can. We’re trying to push that ‘buy local, give local.’”

Applications for receiving Holiday Helping Hands assistance are available at the Milaca Area Food Pantry, The Community Closet, and Mille Lacs County Social Services.

Folks can send monetary donations to P.O. Box 249, Milaca. Checks should be payable to Trinity Lutheran Church-Outreach Fund and should include HHH (Holiday Helping Hands) in the memo line. The monetary gifts will be spent 100 percent on purchasing items for area children. To adopt an area family, contact Bruggeman at 320-983-6380, 320-282-2967 or email [email protected]

For the full story, see the Thursday, Nov. 29 print edition of the Times.