The Custer Ministerial Alliance will once again sponsor the annual Custer Community Christmas Project to bring the community together to experience the spirit of giving and sharing. The distribution of food baskets and Select-a-Gift, both taking place on Saturday, Dec. 16—bring the project to a culmination.
Names of individuals and families in need who are suggested by pastors, Social Services, The Storehouse, schools and individuals. Letters have been sent to potential participants, asking if they wish to be part of the dinner, Select-a-Gift, the food basket program or all three. They are asked to return their letters as soon as possible. Anyone in need who would appreciate participating, but who does not receive a letter is welcome to contact any pastor or Social Services. A person or family may also be suggested for participation by contacting a pastor. The only stipulation is that participants be Custer County residents.
The Storehouse is in need of food for over 200 baskets containing the makings for a bountiful Christmas dinner. Volunteers fill the bags at The Storehouse using donated food items and purchased with money donated to the pantry. A list of needed items for the baskets will be attached to the canvas Storehouse bags at Lynn’s Dakotamart. Community members are encouraged to buy any or all of the items listed. Items placed in these bags and left at Lynn’s will be delivered to The Storehouse. All donated food items not used in baskets are retained at the The Storehouse.
This phase of the project ensures that families in need experience the joy of giving and receiving gifts. Gifts are gathered in November and December for all age groups: children, teenagers, mothers and fathers. On Dec. 16, participating families pick one gift for each family member. The children as a family pick one present for Mom and one for Dad and the parents pick one present for each child. These gifts are wrapped on the spot and tagged for opening on Christmas Day.
Trees with gift tags are in participating area churches and also at First Interstate Bank, Shopko, Family Dollar, Dacotah Bank, Highmark Federal Credit Union, True Value Hardware and the Custer Jr./Sr. High School library. Community residents are encouraged to take tags from one of these trees and buy a gift for the person on each tag chosen. Gift suggestions are printed on the back of the tags or a gift suggestion list appears beside each angel tree at each location.
Organizers are in need of folks taking “mother” and “father” tags so children can get a present for their parents. This also includes single males and females in our community.
Gifts are to be returned unwrapped to the church or business where the tag was picked up by Tuesday, Dec. 12. The gifts will be collected for Select-A-Gift distribution at the Custer Jr./Sr. High School gym starting at 12:30 p.m. Dec. 16. Last year the community’s sharing spirit enabled 91 area families to experience a happier Christmas with over 300 gifts distributed.
Any gifts not given out in Select-A-Gift are donated to Women Escaping a Violent Environment, the local domestic abuse shelter and to The Storehouse for local distribution for families and children in need.
There are numerous ways residents can help in the project:
• Take one or more tags from a tree at churches, Curves, or First Interstate Bank, Highmark, Family Dollar, Shopko, Sentinel Credit Union, True Value Hardware, Dacotah Bank or Custer Jr./Sr. High and Elementary schools. Buy gifts for those persons and return them unwrapped by Dec. 12 to the place where the tags were picked up.
• Help with the gift wrapping at the Select-A-Gift site at the Custer Jr./Sr. High School gym. For information on when and where to report and to volunteer for wrapping contact Janet Warne at 673-5364.
• Donate wrappings, ribbons and bows for the Select-a-Gift wrapping. Call Juli Ames-Curtis (673-2967 or 970-391-9921) for this information.
• Help fill food baskets at The Storehouse or help deliver them. For information in in this area, call Kim Canete at 673-3753.
• Make a cash donation for purchases of food for the baskets or for Select-A-Gift presents. Donations may be given to any pastor or sent to Ames-Curtis at 11936 Hay Creek Rd, Custer, SD 57730. Cash donations may be given to tellers at First Interstate Bank, Highmark Credit Union or Shopko. Envelopes will be on trees as tags listed “$$ donation.”
• Respond to letters sent by the Custer Ministerial Alliance asking for cash donations to support all of these project events.