The Motherhouse annual spaghetti dinner is back — with a few twists!

March 2, 2021 by  

Last year, the Sisters of St. Joseph’s most popular event, the spaghetti dinner — was cancelled due to Covid-19 precautions.

This year, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia are bringing back the spaghetti dinner, but with a twist. For the safety of all of our sisters and our guests, this year’s dinner will be a drive-thru pick-up. Serving will begin at 11 a.m. and end at 1 p.m. on March 21.

In addition to the drive-thru meal pick-up, there will still be a raffle and an auction. But, in another twist, this year the auction will be an online event hosted by Hansen Auction and Realty.

Here is how it will all work.

The dinner will be available to pick up in the circle drive west of the Motherhouse. Meal tickets are $8 each and include spaghetti, green beans, a breadstick and ice cream cup. Tickets must be reserved by Friday, March 12. If you purchased tickets for last year and plan to attend this year, please contact the Development Office by March 12, so the chef can have an accurate count for food. Call 785-243-2113, ext. 1225 for reservations.

In addition to the meal, tickets are available for raffle items. Raffle tickets are $1 each, or six tickets for $5. They can be purchased at the drive-thru the day of the dinner, or by calling in advance.

This year’s raffle ticket items are: a Char broil gas grill with side burner, SEAR burner and side shelf donated by Kathleen and Greg Pestinger; a handmade quilt by Sister Jean Ann Walton; a monster web swing donated by Alice Ruder; a $200 Visa gift card; and one cash prize of $500, two $200 prizes and three $100 prizes.

Our normal silent auction will now be hosted at www.hansenonlineauction.com. You do not need a ticket to participate. To bid, go to the auction site, click on Sisters of St. Joseph Spaghetti Dinner Auction and then register to bid on more than 60 unique items. All proceeds from the auction benefit the ministries of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. The auction will open at noon on Monday, March 15, and close at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 20.

All items purchased must be picked up at the Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia the following week.

“The spaghetti dinner is the fundraiser that the sisters most look forward to, and they enjoy interacting with all the guests,” Ambria Gilliland, assistant director of development said. “We’ve missed you all since Covid-19 began, but we’re eager to see you in March, if only for a few minutes in the drive thru!”

The Motherhouse is located at 1300 Washington, Concordia, Kansas. The drive thru is on the west side of the building. Please call 785-243-2113 ext. 1225 for any questions or reservations.

 

Manna House offers supportive memory loss retreat

February 17, 2021 by  

Manna House of Prayer will offer a workshop on maintaining relationships through the difficulty of memory loss. The workshop, “Memory Loss Changes Everything!” will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020.

Presenter Sister Gilla Dubé acknowledges that one of the most difficult experiences in life is accompanying someone we love who is living with diminishment of their memory. While the person with memory loss may look the same, they are not. They can no longer access their memory in the same way and that’s extremely scary and confusing. Relationships are forever changed and day-to-day life is altered.

Come spend time away and begin unraveling and naming the impact of memory loss and learning how to reweave relationships as gently as possible. Cost: $50 (includes lunch). For information call: 785-243-4428 or email: retreatcenter@mannahouse.org or visit mannahouse.org to enroll online. Preregistration required by Oct. 7.

Manna House of Prayer is located at 323 E. Fifth St., Concordia, Kansas. It is a ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia.

Sisters celebrate employees during Employee Appreciation Week

February 8, 2021 by  

Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia to honor six employees

Six employees of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia will be honored the week of Feb. 8-12 at the Nazareth Motherhouse for their years of service in “Employee Appreciation Week.”

Due to Covid-19 precautions, the annual Employee Appreciation Banquet had to be cancelled. This year, each honored employee has been invited to join the sisters for lunch on different days of the week where the sisters can express their appreciation to them for their years of dedicated service.

While there is no annual event, during the week the sisters will be hosting drawings where all employees can win prizes.

The employees and their years of service are:

Linda Chartier, 20 years

Sherri LeDuc, 10 years

David Sprague, 10 years

Mary Boyer, five years

Ambria Gilliland, five years

Myrna Shelton, five years

“How blessed we are to have such competent and committed employees,” Sister Marilyn Wall, Leadership Council, said.

“Even though this year will be much different, please know of the deep gratitude the sisters have for each of you,” President Jean Rosemarynoski, CSJ, expressed. “We are very blessed by your presence among us and the outstanding work you do!”

Warm up with the January 2021 Messenger

February 2, 2021 by  

Be sure to check out this winter’s Messenger that is full of news about our Sisters being active and helping their communities, news about the 2021 Jubilarians and the kick off of our new series on immigration.

If you would like to be on the Messenger mailing list, just give Laura Hansen in the Development Office a call or email at: 785-243-2113 ext. 1221, lhansen@csjkansas.org. To read online, just click on the page below and use the magnifying glass tool to zoom in and use the X tool to make it full sized so you can enjoy the full page.

 

 

Video of Funeral Mass and Eulogy for Sister Therese Blecha

January 7, 2021 by  

Please click this link to view the video of the Funeral Mass of Sister Therese Blecha which took place Jan. 7, 2021 at the Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia.

https://fb.watch/2T1kOpRTMN/

 

Eulogy for Sister Therese Blecha — April 15, 1941 – Jan. 4, 2021

January 6, 2021 by  

All of us, when reflecting on who Therese was at her core, have our own descriptions. What comes to mind for me is faithfulness. Faithfulness. When writing to Mother Helena asking to enter the novitiate in 1963, Therese wrote, “I have learned a great deal about God and loving and doing all for Him; the more I learn the more I desire to know and serve Him alone and so goes the cycle of love.” She further asked for God’s grace to “help her with that until He shall call me from this life.” That was Therese’s deepest hunger all those many years ago. Even with her diagnosis of Wegener’s Disease and especially in these past weeks we saw her remain resolutely steadfast in that desire.

Therese was born in Belleville, Kansas, on April 15, 1941 and baptized Eloise Ann. She was the second of six children born to Ernest and Eleanor Baxa Blecha. She had an older brother, Richard, and after her came Marjorie, Marie, Cathie and David. They grew up on a farm. She was educated in a one-room school house but said there were always three or four other kids in my elementary classes.

Therese’s main interests in high school were studying science, playing the flute in the band and singing in the chorus. She was homecoming queen during her senior year.

Therese had gone to public schools and so did not have contact with religious sisters except during Vacation Bible School in grade school.

After high school graduation one of her friends enrolled in Marymount College in Salina and so Therese was attracted to Marymount. Her advisor was S. Mary Grace who deepened her interest in chemistry. After her sophomore year she did mission work with Fr. Wempe in Alma, Kansas. This mission work including visiting all the homes in his parishes to talk about their family life but also to talk about their religious beliefs and practices. The home visits included non-Catholics as well as Catholics. Therese found this time very inspiring and life-giving. It helped her decide what she wanted to do with her life. She remembered the sisters from Vacation Bible School and those she knew at Marymount and entered the Sisters of St. Joseph at the end of her junior year. Incidentally, she entered the postulancy on her parents’ 25th wedding anniversary.

When she received the habit in August 1963 she was given the name Mary Therese. Later, in writing to Mother Helena asking to make temporary vows, Therese said, “The novitiate has enabled me to gain a deeper insight into religious life. I have begun to realize that the ordinary religious doesn’t travel the road the sanctity by jet but rather she must travel it day by day, sacrifice by sacrifice, trial by trial, with untiring effort. It may indeed be stormy weather at times but it is these difficulties which add to the joy of the religious for they are only visible proofs of God’s love.” After novitiate she returned to Marymount and graduated with a double major in chemistry and biology.

She began her teaching career at Saints Peter and Paul High School in Boonville, Missouri. As Therese said, “This was a challenge as I thought I knew everything about teaching but I quickly found out that I really didn’t know much at all. With the help of Sister Alexine Marie, I made it through the first year.” It was an exciting time because in addition to teaching all day, she helped with the music program, started the science fair, was in charge of class plays and proms, was the girls physical education teacher as well as head coach for girls’ softball, basketball and track. It was while coaching that Therese changed from the habit into secular clothing discovering it made running up and down the basketball court much easier.

Therese had a healthy ability to laugh at herself. She tells the story of being at Sacred Heart High School in Salina and deciding to change her teaching method from one of lecture-based to hands-on learning. After a while she asked the students how they liked this new method. They said, “Sister, this is so much better because you are so much less grouchy.” With a laugh Therese said she interpreted that in the most favorable sense and decided that meant that they got more individual attention.

Therese was asked to be a house parent at St. Joseph’s Children’s Home in Salina. She found working with children who are not wanted by their parents a real challenge but Therese threw herself into that and worked to make each child feel cared for and loved. Throughout the years since then Therese often told many stories from the Children’s Home because that ministry touched her so deeply.

Therese was an educator par excellence. She was a lifelong student herself. She had a degree from Marymount with a double major in chemistry and biology, a Master’s from the University of North Dakota in chemistry and biology, a second Master’s from Kansas State University in organic chemistry and a PhD from Kansas State University in chemical education.

Therese continued to be fascinated with nature, astronomy and natural things created by God. She had a special passion for wanting to teach people about science who were not scientifically minded. Her dissertation for her PhD was on the “Development of Demonstrations and Models to be used in Classes for Non-chemistry Majors.” Her whole purpose was to enable those students to develop a positive attitude and appreciation of science. She wanted others to experience that same joy of being in awe of God’s creation that she did.

After Marymount College closed she taught at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana, where she earned full professorship and tenure. Again, wanting to impart her love for science she developed a curriculum for teachers of elementary students enabling them to teach physics and chemistry to younger students. They were hands-on courses and she wanted teachers to teach the basic principles of science in a way that was fun and would encourage students to continue learning throughout their life.

In 1993 the Leadership Council challenged her again asking her to become treasurer of our Congregation. She accepted that position after much discernment and prayer. Therese acknowledged that she had no knowledge of accounting and financial management so, characteristic of Therese, she immediately threw herself into taking classes at the local community college and Kansas Wesleyan. Therese did find it difficult to go from being in a classroom interacting with people to being somewhat, as she said, “cloistered” in an office. In fact, she described that as quite traumatic for her but again we see the thread of faithfulness throughout her life. She threw herself into attending national meetings of treasurers, working with sisters and continuing to educate herself. That was Therese – willing to do whatever was needed. She held that position for 14 years leaving it in June 2008.

More recently, Therese served on the Leadership Council and served a second term as Vice-president of the Congregation She was just a few months into serving as vice-president when she became critically ill and was diagnosed with Wegener’s Disease. The disease affected her eyesight, her hearing, the loss of her hair, kidneys and more. Although Therese never complained it was a terrible burden for her to constantly wonder if her next pain or cough was a simple everyday pain or cough or whether it was the disease flaring up. Yet, when she could Therese continued to go into the office and serve the community as best she could.

Therese’s fervent desire prayed as a very young woman, “To know and serve God alone – the cycle of Love” can be seen in everything Therese did – her various ministries, her love of family and her Czech heritage – so proud of the people of Belleville, Cuba and surrounding areas, her appreciation for tasting beer from other countries, her affinity for music often cantering at mass, her true delight in following favored sports teams, her joy in God’s creation. One of Therese’s most notable attributes was her acceptance of people just as they were. Therese genuinely assumed the best in people.

Therese always said that her most precious possessions were her faith and her prayer life but quickly added that these would not be possible if not for the faith and prayer life of her community, family and friends. We bid farewell to Therese trusting her words that we have influenced her life and knowing that she has gifted us with her life and example in more ways than we can even know.

 

 

 

Obituary for Sister Therese Blecha — April 15, 1941 – Jan. 4, 2021

January 5, 2021 by  

Sister Therese Blecha died Jan. 4, 2021, at Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia, Kansas. She was 79 years old and a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia for 57 years. She was born in Belleville, Kansas, on April 15, 1941, to Ernest and Eleanor Baxa Blecha, the second of six children, and was baptized Eloise Ann. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph on Sept. 8, 1962. On Aug. 14, 1963, Eloise received the habit of the Sisters of St. Joseph and was given the name Sister Therese. She pronounced first vows on Aug. 15, 1964 and final vows on Aug. 15, 1969.

Sister Therese began her undergraduate studies at Marymount College in 1959. Upon completion of her novitiate she returned to Marymount and completed her bachelor’s of science degree with a double major in chemistry and biology in 1965. For the next four years she taught in Boonville, Missouri, before returning to Sacred Heart High School in Salina where she taught from 1969-71. Therese began graduate work in 1973 and by 1976 she had completed all course work for her master’s degree and then a second master’s degree. By 1981 she completed her research project in organic chemistry and received her Ph.D. from Kansas State University. She returned to Marymount to serve on the faculty from 1976 until the college closed in 1989. From 1989 until 1993 she taught chemistry at St. Joseph College in Rensselaer, Indiana.

In 1993 she was appointed as General Treasurer of the Congregation; a position she held until retiring in 2008. In 2012 she was elected to the Leadership Council of the Congregation; followed by being elected Vice President of the Congregation in 2016. Her term ended in July of 2020.

Sister Therese was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by her brothers Richard, of Salina, and David, of Munden; sisters Marjorie Schmitz and Marie Chmidling, of Topeka, and Cathie Switzer, of Concordia. The Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:30 a.m. Jan. 7 in the Motherhouse Auditorium with Rev. Barry Brinkman presiding. The eulogist is Sister Jean Rosemarynoski. Due to the safety precautions for Covid-19, the funeral mass will be private. However, it will be livestreamed on the Sisters of St. Joseph Facebook page. The burial will be in the Nazareth Motherhouse Cemetery. Chaput-Buoy Mortuary, 325 W. Sixth St., Concordia, is in charge of arrangements. Memorials for Sister Therese Blecha may be given to the Sisters of St. Joseph Health Care/ Retirement Fund or the Apostolic Works of the Sisters; P.O. Box 279, Concordia, KS 66901.

To make an online donation in Sister Therese Blecha’s memory, click on the button below:

DonateNow 

Generous donors fund new washers and dryers for Neighbor to Neighbor

December 31, 2020 by  

Neighbor to Neighbor received an early Christmas gift when two sets of new washers and dryers were installed on Dec. 21. Thanks to the work of generous donors, the guests at Neighbor to Neighbor will be well served for years to come.

Why does Neighbor to Neighbor need laundry services?

“Since Neighbor to Neighbor began, one of the many services we offer is the availability of free washers and dryers for our women. The machines we had have served everyone well for 12 years. They are almost always used the entire day on every day we are open,” said Sister Missy Ljungdahl, director of Neighbor to Neighbor. “Women are trying to budget their money and make ends meet. This is one way we can help them with this matter.”

Josh Duvall moves one of the units into the laundry room.

This year, their current laundry equipment was showing signs of years of wear.

“We knew it was getting close to time to replace the machines and wanted to have things in place before ‘it was too late.’ When we were evaluating our needs, we knew the washers and dryers would need to be on top of the list,” Sister Missy said. “In visiting with Ambria Gilliland in the Development Office I mentioned that we would be needing new washers and dryers in the near future.”  

She didn’t realize how near that future would be.

“Within a couple weeks, I received a call from a dear friend of the Community, Connie Tavanis. Connie was calling from Massachusetts saying that she and Mary DeCramer were getting the funding for new machines and they would be here soon,” Sister Missy said.

“When I read that Neighbor to Neighbor needed to replace their worn-out washers and dryers I thought that my ‘band’ and I could step up to the plate and help raise the money to replace them,” Tavanis said.

A band is the name for a group of women who enter into religious life during the same year. She was a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia’s band of 1964.

“We reached out to our families and friends to help us make this happen. Others who read the article in ‘The Messenger’ joined us, and before you knew it we had collected enough to buy two sets of top-of-the-line appliances,” Tavanis said. “I guess we all can relate to how important having clean clothes are to us and those we love. Thank you sisters for all your important work you do in the lives of all those who struggle. Your kindness and caring teaches all of us what is important … loving one another.”

From there, Sister Jan McCormick, Gilliland and Laura Hansen, all in the sisters’ Development Office, worked with Greg Gallagher, Motherhouse property administrator, to make the new washers and dryers a reality. And despite problems purchasing large appliances during supply chain disruptions due to Covid-19, they were able to take the donations and purchase the perfect sets.

“Greg did some research and found a set that we thought would be a good replacement. However, with many manufacturers shut down because of Covid, the units we wanted were no longer in stock. After much more research, another option was found. It was a bit more money than we had originally planned but we went ahead with the purchase,” Gilliland said. “After adding up all the donations received, I was astonished to discover that the amount raised was the exact amount of the purchase! Down to the dollar!”

Gilliland couldn’t wait to let Sister Missy know the good news.

N2N Director Missy Ljungdahl looks on as Justin LeDuc and Brad Snyder move a washer/dryer unit into Neighbor to Neighbor.

“Sister Missy was overjoyed when I told her. She mentioned that Sister Christella Buser always used to say that during Advent, God sends us little gifts. This was certainly an Advent gift!” Gilliland said. “We are all just so grateful for everyone’s support of this project. Clean clothes are something that many of us take for granted but not everyone has the luxury. I have to give a special thank you to Connie Tavanis, who was so touched by this project, that she rounded up her former band members and friends and asked them all to contribute. I know without a doubt, that the success of this project is due mostly to her.”

Maintenance staff at the Motherhouse installed the units on Dec. 21, just before the holidays.

“The machines were installed and within hours they had already been put to good use,” Sister Missy said. “Our women are happy to be able to have these laundry services. One woman has said that the money she would have to use at the laundromat is money she has put away for Christmas. Everyone has been gifted this year.”

Sister Missy wanted to again thank everyone who made this happen for the women of Neighbor to Neighbor.

“There are so many people to thank for the gift of the washers and dryers. Surely there will be some left out and for that I apologize,” Sister Missy said. “But let me try: Sisters Ramona, Jean and Pat, and Myrna Shelton for thinking up Neighbor to Neighbor and keeping it a welcoming place; Our development and communications offices for getting the word out of our needs; Greg Gallagher and our maintenance crew for purchasing and installing the machines; Connie Tavanis and Mary DeCramer for getting so many people involved with monetary gifts and letting them know about our work; and F&A Food Sales, here in Concordia, for donating laundry soap and bleach. We thank God for the privilege of being able to be here for the women and children of Concordia.”

Women can schedule a time to do laundry once a week at Neighbor to Neighbor.

“Please call if you need this service and we can put you on the calendar,” Sister Missy said. “We do have laundry detergent for your use. Finally, we ask that if you are doing your laundry, that you stay in the building.”

Neighbor to Neighbor is located at 103 E. Sixth St. in Concordia. It is a ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph. For more information, call 785-262-4215 or email neighbortoneighbor@csjkansas.org.

“These washers and dryers really are a blessing to so many women in our community,” Gilliland said. “Thank you!”

 

Manna House plays Santa’s helper with United Way of the Plains

December 16, 2020 by  

Manna House of Prayer in Concordia was delighted to play Santa’s helper this Christmas season thanks to United Way of the Plains. United Way of the Plains partnered with Good 360 and Toys for Tots to distribute 14,448 toys and games to children in 27 counties across Kansas, including Cloud County, this holiday season. Manna House was selected to distribute the gifts to families in need in this area.

Susan LeDuc, administrative coordinator of Manna House, along with the help of her husband, Jim, picked up a van-load of 120 toys in Wichita last week and brought them back to Manna House where the Sisters of St. Joseph sorted them into age groups and then wrapped many of the gifts. Then it was time to distribute to families that had fallen into the gaps between the other community relief programs.

“The families that were selected were mostly families with several children. We were careful to pick families who had not signed up for Christmas baskets or the Angel Tree,” LeDuc said. “Covid has caused them financial burdens. Almost every family is working or had been. Many of them are single parent families.”

LeDuc said that one mother told her they had been in quarantine and she had been unable to get any gifts. Then she said it didn’t matter because, “She didn’t have any money anyway.”

“Collaborations like this allow us to stretch donated dollars to help meet the tangible needs of non profits and the people they serve,” said Mark Stump, director of direct services for United Way of the Plains. “Last year we distributed more than $2 million worth of donated goods to 325 Kansas nonprofits.”

Through their Give Items of Value (GIV) warehouse, United Way of the Plains has the ability to accept donations from corporate partners and distribute them to nonprofits at no cost, helping them lower overhead expenses. United Way of the Plains was one of three sites selected nationally to participate in this pilot program to reach children in communities that do not have a Toys for Tots program. GIV has partnered with United Ways and other nonprofits in select counties to distribute the toys through their local assistance programs.

Donations include games, dolls, basketballs, soccer balls, electronics, stuffed animals and more for boys and girls age 0 to 14+.

“In a year when more families than ever are facing hardships, this program will ease their burdens and bring joy to children across Kansas on Christmas morning,” said Pete Najera, United Way President and CEO.

“I cannot begin to tell you how appreciative these parents were. It made me feel like Santa,” LeDuc said. “I truly was the one receiving the gift.”

“One mother said her 7- and 9-year-old commented that there was only 15 days before Christmas and wondered why there weren’t any presents under the tree yet.  Thanks to these organizations we were able to put presents under the tree this year,” LeDuc said. “Another couple could not thank me enough, just repeated thank you’s all the time they were here picking up the toys. Yesterday, a single mother came during her lunch hour to pick up the toys.  She remarked that the toys were so nice and that they were going to make her two daughters’ Christmas so special.  She cried going out the door.  Several asked, ‘You mean we get more than one gift per child?’  Just an overabundance of gratitude from all of them.”

Manna House of Prayer was established in 1978.  It is owned and operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph.  Since its inception Manna House has served the poor through its Helping Hands ministry.  The Helping Hands ministry provides emergency financial assistance, temporary housing, and a small food bank.  It is entirely dependent on private donations and grants.

 

Sisters of St. Joseph give Resource Center a helping hand

December 9, 2020 by  

The Cloud County Resource Center is a busy place during the holiday season. There are donations of food and toys to sort, volunteers to organize and families that are in need of assistance.

On Tuesday, Dec. 8, some of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia joined Tonya Merrill, director of the center, to lend a hand in sorting food donations to fill holiday food baskets and sort and wrap presents to brighten area children’s holidays.

Sisters Denise Schmitz, Christina Brodie and Ann Ashwood, along with CSJ candidate Angela Jones, dug right in on sorting the food donations. Bundles and boxes of nonperishable food needed to be unpacked and sorted into similar groups to make it both easier to fill the holiday baskets and to see what additional items needed to be purchased to fill the gaps. It sounds like a lot of work, but it can be rewarding for volunteers.

“Today was an amazing experience with Tonya at the Resource Center,” said Sister Denise. “Listening to what and how they help in Cloud County, along with other entities like the Girl Scouts and ABATE to make Christmas better is unbelievable. The generosity of donors can make the difference and help that many more folks, especially since we are experiencing Covid-19.”

Merrill said the Resource Center had just under 200 requests for holiday assistance. Families applied for the food baskets before Thanksgiving, although she said that the center does try to cover people who have had emergencies or people who have just moved to town and were unable to apply by the deadline.

In a normal year, many of the toys being wrapped at the center would go to the center’s Holiday Store. Due to Covid-19, the store was cancelled.

“In an average year we’d have two days of Holiday Store and those are usually 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. days. We’d take in about 100 kids a day, so we’d have between 50 and 100 volunteers total,” Merrill said. “Obviously that’s not possible through Covid so we changed to some new programs so it’s more contactless.”

“What we did instead is we booked groups of volunteers who already had contact with each other and who probably would be safe working together knowing that there would only be a couple of us as volunteers here so that there would be minimal risk on both sides. We have a couple of different groups coming all on different days,” Merrill said as she watched the sisters sort food items onto long tables in the center. “We’re just sort of getting started today. On Thursday we’ll do it again, and then next week we’ll start handing out what we already have packed to make room for the next rotation.”

“It was fun helping them with the food baskets, shopping and wrapping presents for children,” Sister Denise said. “There are many projects we can help with down the road. Cloud County is blessed to have Tonya and the Resource Center. There is still so much to get completed before Christmas, I hope that we can make another day to help them meet their goal this Christmas. Manna House enjoys our partnership with the center.”

In addition to the items already at the center, more toys will be coming.

“By then, (next week) gifts should be coming in off the Angel Tree so we’ll be matching them up with food boxes and the letters from Santa and then they will go out,” Merrill said. “The letters from Santa is a new program that took the place of the Holiday Store where families can apply to us for things that they need as a family. So if they need new shoes, or new coats or bedding — we’re trying to fill those needs as best we can. It’s normally stuff we’d cover with the Holiday Store, but since that can’t be contactless enough to keep everybody safe, we just had to shut it down. Which is a shame, but it’s the only way.”

The Cloud County Resource Center works closely with other agencies to help everyone in the community have a happy holiday.

“We try to fill all the gaps the best we can between the three agencies,” Merrill said. “The Girl Scouts will buy a bunch of toys for the little kids under 12, the ABATE Toy Run will cover the kids who are over 12 up to about 16 or 17 and then we’ll cover whatever is left and we’ll do all the food baskets.”

Merrill said she works closely with Kathy Ashland from the Girl Scouts and Camey Thurner from the ABATE Toy Run to make it happen.

“Everyone at the Cloud County Resource Center is so grateful for all of the volunteers that are willing to take time out of their own busy holiday schedule to help us out,” Merrill said.

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