Dec 14, 2022 | By: Justin Othoudt

Annual ‘Holiday Gifts For Kids’ Program Set to Distribute Toys for Bemidji Families

For over two decades, the United Way of Bemidji Area has offered families in need an opportunity to receive a gift for their children thanks to their Holiday Gifts For Kids program, which is set to take place at the Sanford Center on Thursday, Dec. 15.

“Parents have filled out registration forms for their kids,” explained Gretchen Thompson, United Way Community Impact, “so they get to come and pick out a gift, one gift per child, and then they also get to pick out a game.”

On Wednesday, volunteers from the community came to help set up for the next day’s event. Members of BSU’s women’s basketball team and representatives from Kraus-Anderson Construction Company unloaded, organized, and displayed the gifts.

“This is one of those dates that we just circle on our calendar,” said Kraus-Anderson Construction Company Bemidji Director Tracy Pogue. “We’ll be here for four or five hours, sorting toys by age group.”

Every item on display was donated by members of the community to make sure children in need receive a gift for the holidays.

“It’s just so inspiring to see the community come together and want to help each other in this way,” said Thompson.

“I kept asking, ‘Where do all these toys come from?'” said Pogue. “It’s very heartwarming to see how many people actually just put a toy in a box and ship it to United Way.”

The community-donated gifts are set to be given out to over 700 children in the Bemidji area, which helps cements the holiday season as the season of giving.

“The help that comes in, they always talk about how they feel like Santa Claus,” explained Thompson. “There’s a lot of Christmas spirit around all this.”

Distribution for the Holiday Gifts For Kids program will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 15 at The Sanford Center, with a large number of community volunteers assisting the Bemidji United Way.

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