Chamber Foundation supports Children’s Christmas Project
On Monday, Nov. 16, the Merrill Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation donated $5,000 in support of the ‘Children’s Christmas Project,’ spearheaded by the Merrill Area United Way (MAUW).
As part of the project, MAUW is targeting about 200 families in need, with a goal of reaching 600 children or more to help with their Christmas. When United Way learned that the Christmas Spirit Appeal, the Lincoln County United Giving Tree Program, was suspended due to restrictions in place with COVID-19 in late September, United Way reacted.
“I’m not sure that there is a better use for this money than to give some area children some relief from the pandemic” stated Chamber Foundation Chair, Tim Schreiber.
“So many families have been affected by Covid-19, the recession that followed and continues. If we can make Christmas more enjoyable for those in need, then it is money well spent on a very worthwhile project.”
In partnership with three affiliate agencies; St. Vincent DePaul, Merrill Area Food Pantry and the North Central Community Action Program, MAUW will work to identify qualified families in need. These would be families that have prequalified for assistance through various programs such as rental assistance, utility assistance, meeting food, clothing, transportation, or medical needs.
Early discussions led MAUW to believe that the project will be assisting about 200-220 families for the holiday. Averaging three children per family, and a $20 gift certificate per child, MAUW estimated needing $15,000 to cover the project and gift certificates for approximately 600 children.
Gift cards will only be provided for children 17 and under, and will not include adults. Also, the Merrill Food Pantry will provide a voucher for a holiday turkey, noting other holiday meal needs could be filled through the Food Pantry.
“The Children’s Christmas Project will serve several hundred children this year, putting some spirit of Christmas in their hearts and smiles on their faces,” comments Merrill Area United Way Executive Director Dee Olsen.
“We realize families are struggling during these uncertain times. The gift of $5,000 from the Chamber Foundation was incredible and with that gift we believe the Children’s Christmas Project will be able to increase the gift level for each child. Families have until December Monday, Dec. 7 to call St. Vincent De Paul (715-539-2666) to get their children on the list for the drive-thru pick-up,” she explains.
“The Chamber Foundation’s gift far surpassed our expectations. Children should not have a Christmas without gifts under their tree on Christmas morning. We appreciate the Chamber Foundation’s generous gift. We have reached our goal and thank all who have donated to the Project.”
As Olsen alluded to, project volunteers will have a drive-thru to pick up gift certificates and vouchers on Friday, Dec. 11 and Saturday, Dec. 12. This will be done in a COVID safe manner with everyone who is working and volunteering, wearing plastic gloves and masks. Masks will be requested of the families participating and that they remain in their vehicles.
The $5,000 donation from the Merrill Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation was allocated from the Foundation’s Emergency Assistance Fund (EAF)-formerly known as the Tornado Relief Fund-which was created in the aftermath of the EF3 Tornado, which struck the Merrill area in April of 2011. Following all damage claims being processed and paid out in the wake of the tornado, an estimated $20,000 remained in the fund. The fund was later renamed the EAF, and earmarked to assist Merrill area residents impacted by a future catastrophic event.