Houston County groups make holidays brighter

By: 
Jordan Gerard

Shelves filling up with food, tags on trees with gift requests and a whole team giving holiday cheer adds up to three Houston County groups that aim to make the holidays a whole lot brighter for families in need.

‘Tis the season of giving and each group from Houston County is looking forward to its own events and county-wide events.

Totals from Festival of Trees will be announced soon. Meanwhile, Houston County Care and Share, Houston County Ring and Run and Houston County Food Shelf await donations.

Care and Share

Tags from trees at local businesses and churches are due back on Dec. 8 (churches) and Dec. 9 (businesses).

Coordinator Jill Hahn said applications are still coming in from families, but generally the group serves more than 400 children every year, which come from 250 households in the county, and they also serve nearly 90 elderly or disabled people with a grocery store gift certificate.

Volunteers will be sorting donations by age groups, and families will do their shopping and receive gifts to give to their children. The group is also partnering with Toys for Tots again.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Hahn said. “We get lots of hugs, some tears. People are very grateful for the program. They often tell us they wouldn’t have been able to provide [their kids] with gifts.”

Monetary donations are also accepted and those can be sent to 138 E. Main St., Caledonia 55921. To sign up for the program or to volunteer, people can call Hahn at 507-724-3157.

Ring and Run

This group has caught on and been accepted by the Houston County community, founder Mark Buttell said.

For the last seven years, the Ring and Run committee and volunteers have served more than 200 families.

“The community kind of drives our success because people believe in what we do, and that to me is why it’s so successful,” he said.

The committee works toward bringing Christmas cheer to a family or people who need it. Nominations are made at drop boxes at all Merchants Bank locations in Houston County (Spring Grove, Caledonia and La Crescent). New this year, people can fill out a form on Ring and Run’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/RingandRun/).

Also on the Facebook page are signature stories of past nominees who were helped. Stories are kept anonymous. The most recently posted story was about a person who had a sick child, multiple bills, medical trips and a car needing repairs.

The person’s wish was to visit family in Illinois they had not seen since 2004 and family members they had not met yet.

“... with a knock on her door and a tin filled with cookies and a check she was filled with joy. She immediately fixed the car and dashed to visit family they so longed to see,” the post says. 

Wishes like this and others are granted thanks to donors, volunteers and events like the bowling event happening on Saturday, Dec. 7, at Maad Bowling Alley in Caledonia. 

Three shifts for bowling will take place, including one for kids and the two others for adults. An auction will also be held with unique items such as a 30-minute plane ride or bus tour from Elsie’s Bar and Grill, a youth bow from Mathews Archery and homemade items. The event starts at 11 a.m. See the Facebook event for more information on Ring and Run’s page.

Other events include mini school wars between Houston County schools including pajama days and other competitions.

“It’s been a blast, “ Buttell said. “Since it’s started, it’s a humbling feeling, a complete feeling. I always tell people it seems like our nominations ... were nominated by something greater than ourselves.”

Food shelf

The food shelf accepts donations of canned and dry goods all year round. Check your local businesses or fundraising groups for events and drop-off locations. 

The food shelf can be reached at 507-725-3677.