On Thursday, November 16 we played Santa to a bunch of people who will soon be playing Santa themselves. We threw a party for volunteers from 15 community agencies in Barron, Burnett, Dunn, Polk, Sawyer, St. Croix and Washburn counties. Everyone who attended was treated to cocktails and a buffet meal. And a representative from each agency got the chance to pick a mystery Christmas card for up to $1,500 in cash. In all, we donated $11,500 to the charities represented at the banquet. This special banquet took the place of the Christmas toy drive the St. Croix Casinos have hosted every year since 1993.
What will the charities do with the money? Lots of things. For the big winner for the night, Alberta Olson of Polk County Operation Christmas, the answer was simple. “Socks!” Alberta always makes sure that every child on her list receives a brand-new pair of socks. “Getting new socks for Christmas was always special for me when I was a kid,” she said. With the $1,500 Alberta received, she should be able to buy lots of socks – and even more toys for children in Polk County.
Cindy Vanda of Clayton Gifts for Children will have no problem using her $500 award. “We have 41 families signed up for Christmas already and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet,” Cindy remarked.
Jan Traurig of Brian’s Heart will use her $750 award to bring Christmas to Native Americans on the reservations in South Dakota. She and her volunteers travel monthly to distribute donations of food, clothing, household items and other necessities counties that are the poorest in the United States.
Students at Turtle Lake High School have a long tradition of brightening the holidays for needy families in the Turtle Lake School District through their Student Offering Support (S.O.S.) program. Their adviser, Jean Pabst, took home $1,000 from the November 16 to assist in this annual holiday effort.
Carla LaBlanc heads up the Christmas for Children campaign in Clear Lake, Wis. She received $500 at the November 16 banquet.
The following charities received awards at the banquet:
Brian’s Heart, Centuria, Wis., $750
Chetek Community Club, Chetek, Wis., $750
Clayton Gifts for Children, Clayton, Wis., $500
Christmas for Children, Clear Lake, Wis., $500
Grace Place (Salvation Army), New Richmond, Wis., $500
Indianhead Community Action Agency, Webster, Wis.,$750
Margaret’s Project Santa, Cumberland, Wis., $750
Polk County Operation Christmas, St. Croix Falls, Wis., $1,500
Operation Santa, Rice Lake, Wis., $500
Prairie Farm Lions, Prairie Farm, Wis., $750
Spooner Community Christmas Drive, Spooner, Wis., $1,000
Stone Lake Emergency Fund, Hayward, Wis., $1,000
Turtle Lake School S.O.S., Turtle Lake, Wis., $1,000
Washburn County Food Pantry, Spooner, Wis., $750
WestCAP, Glenwood City, Wis., $500
Thank you to all of the volunteers in our communities who work tirelessly to bring a merry Christmas to children in their communities. We wish all of them a very blessed Christmas season.
For more banquet photos, see https://danbury.stcroixcasino.com/spreading-christmas-cheer-2/ and https://hertel.stcroixcasino.com/spreading-christmas-cheer-2/