December 7, 2011

Opportunities abound to share during Christmas

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

McKenzie County is full of people who believe ‘it is better to give than to receive.’
That’s why nearly 48 hours after Social Services set up The Giving Tree in the Watford City Post Office, it was empty.
Each tag that represented a local recipient had been picked from the tree and its taker had already begun thinking about how they would fill the needs it represented.
Not to worry, however. There are still plenty of needs in McKenzie County during the Christmas season, and many opportunities in which to share.
One pressing need, now that winter is officially here, is gift cards, hats, gloves and blankets for Social Services.
“Sometimes when The Giving Tree is done, people walk in the last minute and want to get on it,” states Karen Holte, eligibility worker for McKenzie County Social Services. “In that instance, it is nice to be able to give them a gift card or two, to help meet some of their needs.”
Holte also states that the blankets, hats and gloves are usually given to local children, oftentimes siblings of The Giving Tree recipients, children who are already in the system, or simply  children of families that walk into the office needing help.
“We want to dispel the myth that our great economy means that every family is doing well,” states Stacy Arnegard, McKenzie County social worker. “There are many people who are struggling financially and without resources, and we are not going to turn anyone away. Thankfully, we have a generous community that supports those in need.”
Donations can be delivered to the McKenzie County Social Services building, and anyone with a question about giving to Social Services can call the office at 701-444-3661.
Marcia Hellandsaas. McKenzie County Extension agent, states that the Extension Office also has plenty of opportunities for people looking to donate their time or money.
The McKenzie County Food Pantry, which opens once a month to provide food for low-income families, is always in need of monetary donations. The Food Pantry does not accept donations of food, but money can be sent to the McKenzie County Extension Office.
The Mentor Program pairs adults who are willing to be good role models with a child or teen. Adult volunteers are asked to spend at least an hour a week with their mentee, supporting, encouraging and mentoring them.
The 4-H Clubs in McKenzie County need adults willing to help area children build skills.
And, the Community Coalition, funded by a grant to work on underage drinking, needs adults and teens to provide awareness and education about underage drinking in McKenzie County.
Anyone with questions about the Food Pantry, Mentor Program, area 4-H Clubs or the Community Coalition can call the McKenzie County Extension Office at 701-444-3451 and speak with Marcia Hellandsaas.