Saturday, December 6, 2008

Free Christmas Holiday Baskets: Wisconsin

Last year, the Holiday Basket Project gave 1,233 low-income families in the area some much-needed season's greetings.

"The whole idea is to just provide a nice Christmas for struggling families, and this year we're thinking there may be more, because of the economic situation," a coordinator Karen Aldinger said.
The 2008 Holiday Basket Project provides a holiday meal and gifts at Christmas to low-income and working-poor families. A nonprofit program of Operation Bootstrap, it accepts applications from local families in need and matches each with a sponsor.

People can sponsor a family with a food basket containing items for a holiday meal or a gift certificate from a local grocery store, plus gifts for the children.
It will cost about $75 to fill a basket for a family of four.

There are about 25 food items suggested to put in the basket, such as a 10-pound turkey, stuffing mix, two cans of pie filling and 12 eggs. It also suggests additional items that can't be purchased with food stamps, such as toilet paper, toothpaste and shampoo. Stocking stuffers, such as washable markers, storybooks, mittens and puzzles, also can be included.
Sponsors will deliver the baskets from Dec. 16 to 23.

"It's a wonderful way for the community to get involved in providing a special Christmas for those that aren't well off and less fortunate," Aldinger said. "It makes (sponsors') Christmas special when they can make someone else's Christmas better."

St. Paul Lutheran Church in Stevens Point has been making 75 holiday baskets a year for almost 30 years, said Bonnie Lund, project coordinator at the church.
She sends a letter to the congregation every year, and this year she requested $12,000 in donations for supplies. The church also has a mitten tree, where people can donate mittens and other gifts. Everything goes toward the baskets.
Several youths from the congregation do the shopping

for the baskets.
"What I'm most proud of is that we have so many young people involved," Lund said. "It's ... the wonderful commitment that our church has in reaching out to the community."

To get involved or for more information, call Holiday Basket Project at