Char Ellig and Sara Madsen sat at a kitchen table in Redwood Falls recently to talk about an event that is taking place later this year. Known as Share the Spirit, the event is held to help families in need to ensure they can celebrate the Christmas holiday.

The challenge, however, for the co-coordinators of the community event is that the window of opportunity to put together this year’s event is smaller. With Thanksgiving falling on Nov. 28, there are fewer days after that holiday to put the finishing touches on the program.

Applications for families who are served by Share the Spirit are currently being accepted, and those must be submitted by Nov. 22. Several organizations, such as United Community Action Partnership, the local food shelf, churches, schools and the county human services program help by making referrals for those they think could benefit from the event. 

Others may also contact Share the Spirit to find out more about the application process and eligibility.

This will be the 42nd year Share the Spirit has been involved in Redwood County.

One year ago, 239 families were helped through Share the Spirit, including 531 kids. The program also gave out 559 fruit baskets and gifts to forgotten people of the area in county nursing homes.

The expenses in 2018 exceeded $20,000, and Ellig and Madsen said that does not happen without the support of the community.

Sponsors for families are currently being sought. Those sponsors are assigned a family, and as part of that sponsorship they can take part in various opportunities. As sponsors they can provide all that a family might need for Christmas, including gifts and meals for the day. Ellig and Madsen said they recommend that the meal portion include something for the entire day, including breakfast, Christmas dinner and a light meal for later in the day. Of course, desserts and Christmas treats are also welcome.

Others may want to just sponsor the meal or provide the gifts for the family. Those who are sponsored will receive what is not offered by the sponsor through the donations of many gifts from people in the Redwood area. There is always a need for additional sponsors.

Individuals, families, organizations, businesses, etc. are all welcome to be sponsors.

The distribution takes place at the Redwood Falls National Guard Armory in Redwood Falls Dec. 10-12. Starting Dec. 2 and continuing through Dec. 9 volunteers will be available from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. (weekdays only) to answer questions about the program.

A distribution also is held in Lamberton as part of Share the Spirit. That will take place at the community center Dec. 9. To learn more about this distribution, contact Marg Weber at (507) 648-3442.

Ellig and Madsen stressed this is not a program just for low-income families. It may be a family who is struggling financially, but it also may be a family that is dealing with some other issue, such as the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, illness or some other life disruption, that could mean a family may miss the holiday.

Ellig and Madsen expressed their appreciation to Share the Spirit’s volunteers. Those interested in helping are encouraged to contact Share the Spirit.

To learn more about how to get involved as a family, sponsor, donor or volunteer, contact Share the Spirit at (507) 430-5229, Redwoodsharethespirit@gmail.com or visit its Facebook page.