Saint Mary’s Gifts for Winona grateful for Winona’s generosity


From: Deb Nahrgang

SMU Gifts for Winona program

There wouldn’t be room to sign this letter with 1,400 signatures of thanks.

Those 1,400 people include close to 950 children who will excitedly rip open presents to find new toys and clothes this holiday season. I hope you all feel a sense of warmth knowing that so many of these children and teens will be ready for the winter with their new winter boots, mittens and coats.

Additionally, about 100 seniors are thanking you for a variety of basic necessities, including silverware, coats and blankets.

Because of the enormous growth of this program, Saint Mary’s University Gifts for Winona modified its program this year; youth younger than 18 and seniors older than 60 were eligible to apply. But, because of the outpouring of generosity of our donors, every family received either groceries or a grocery card as well. These families thank you for the food that will now fill their holiday tables.

Because of you, these families have been given presents for their trees and hope in their hearts. For the eighth year in a row, our community has made sure that no one goes home empty handed.

We know that our donors never see the families they help. They write checks and shop for presents for people they’ll never meet. And, they never get to hear the heartfelt “thank yous” or see the smiles and tears these families share with us when they receive their gifts. It is this kind of blind generosity that overwhelms us with humble thanks.

As we count our blessings for the past and upcoming years, we should also remember those less fortunate whose material blessings are just a little harder to come by this year. We hope and pray that 2010 will have many wonderful things in store for these families.

The Saint Mary’s University Gifts for Winona volunteers will say an extra special thanks to all of you, including:

• the program’s additional partners, Winona Radio, Winona Post and Winona Volunteer Services;

• the many shoppers, wrappers, data-entry volunteers, sorters and organizers, who put in long hours without complaint;

• the many sponsoring businesses, schools, churches and organizations who helped groups of 10 or more;

• every individual who took a tag off of a tree or donated money;

• Fleet Farm for donating orange bags, Walmart for its generous donation; and our friends at Cars & Credit who always make sure there are no tags left.

• the Winona National banks, the Winona Public Library, Videoland, Scrapper’s Haven, Affinity Plus, Winona Post and Security State Bank for sponsoring giving trees;

• referral agencies who provided support;

• the staff and patrons of the Valncia Arts Center for allowing us to take over the building for one of the gift distributions, and Fran at the Resource Center in St. Charles for helping to distribute gifts;

• and the area media for helping spread the word about this program and how to help.

We continue to be very blessed to be part of such a caring community.


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