Area programs seeking donations to help local families in need

Jessica Stölen-Jacobson
Montevideo American-News

A number of programs exist in Chippewa County and the surrounding areas to help families in need, whether they serve low-income families or victims of domestic violence. Those programs are searching for donations of everything from food to monetary gift cards this holiday season as families struggle to make ends meet during the winter months. Below are summaries of a few of the programs in the local area who are looking for specific donations, and how to make those donations. 

Prairie Five Community Action Council seeks donations for holiday meals through Food Shelf

Prairie Five Community Action Council’s Chippewa County Food Shelf is currently seeking donations for its 2021 holiday food drive. Outreach Director Elizabeth Koehl says the food shelf anticipates distributing food to 175 families in Chippewa County during the holiday season. 

Some in-demand items that the food shelf hopes to see donated this season include boxed stuffing mix, gravy mix packets, canned cranberries, canned fruit, canned corn, canned green beans, in addition to any other items. There is also the opportunity to make monetary donations that help to purchase food for Prairie Five’s holiday projects. “A donation of $25 sponsors a family holiday basket,” Koehl explains. 

Donations can be made at the Chippewa County Food Shelf Monday through Friday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Those who need to make arrangements for drop-off or help arranging a holiday food drive can call the Chippewa County Food Shelf at 320-269-6578. “Thank you for your continued support of the Chippewa County Food Shelf,” Koehl says.

Women's Rural Advocacy Center (WRAP) hosts fundraising efforts for Empowerment Gift Program

This year, the Women's Rural Advocacy Program (WRAP) is planning a new way for community members to help families in need who utilize the advocacy program through the holiday season. Previously, community members would sponsor a family, receiving a list of what kind of gifts they could buy for the family, but this year the program is looking to provide more empowerment to the families through the Empowerment Gift Program.

WRAP serves Lincoln, Lyon, Redwood, and Yellow Medicine Counties with a mission to provide safety, advocacy, and assistance for those victimized by domestic violence and sex trafficking/exploitation while raising community awareness through prevention and education. The program began in 1994 to recognize the needs of domestic violence victims in the local area by offering a variety of services from a 24-hour crisis phone to accompaniment to appointments and court appearances. (A full list of services is available on their website at letswrap.com.)

The WRAP Empowerment Gift Program allows community members to donate gift cards and wrapping paper to be used to allow parents in the program to purchase holiday gifts for their children, and even wrap them. "This gives the families the opportunity to do the Christmas shopping so it's more personable for the victims to make those purchases when they're facing a lot of challenges during this season," says Yellow Medicine County Advocate Missy. 

In return for their donations, donors will be recognized through a certificate for their generosity, which has levels based on donation amounts from bronze (up to $100), to platinum (over $301). "Their donations are greatly appreciated during this season," Missy says.

Donations can be dropped off at any of the WRAP offices. To coordinate a drop-off, please call their office at 800-639-2350 and choose option four for reception to coordinate for each location.  

Safe Avenues raising funds to help with gas, food, and warm clothing for survivors of domestic and sexual violence

Safe Avenues, based in Willmar, serves survivors of domestic and sexual violence who need help meeting basic needs in Chippewa County. Director of Community Outreach Kasey Baker says, “Now more than ever they need gas to get to work. They need food for their kids. They need warm clothes to survive the winter.”  Ways to help include purchasing gift cards to help fill those needs. Baker says those purchases not only support local survivors but local businesses as well. There is also an opportunity to make monetary donations, by visiting the Safe Avenues website at willmarshelter.com.

Baker also notes that Safe Avenues is fully staffed and available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for anyone who needs advocacy services. Safe Avenues can be reached at 320-321-1199. The organization has been in operation since 1978.