by Joni Astrup
Gifts Anonymous has been spreading joy by helping families in need provide Christmas gifts for their children since 1970.
Now, another season is beginning. Barrels where new, unwrapped gifts for children from birth to age 18 can be donated are being placed at 33 locations in Elk River and Otsego (see list of sites below). Barrels will begin being put out on Sunday, Nov. 15.
The deadline to donate gifts is Friday, Dec. 18. Barrels will be picked up that day so organizers can set up for the distribution event on Saturday, Dec. 19.
“We are anticipating with further restrictions and an increased (COVID-19) infection rate that we will see an increased amount of participation this year. So our request is help fill the barrels so we can continue to serve our neighbors who need our help,” said Jessica Stockamp, Gifts Anonymous president.
Cash donations are also being accepted at The Bank of Elk River under an account titled Otsego Lions — GA Account No. 135829.
All the schools in Elk River and Otsego are helping Gifts Anonymous gather donations in some fashion as well, Stockamp said. Elementary schools moving to the hybrid learning model is expected to make that a greater challenge than in years past, she said.
Gifts Anonymous served 510 children from 203 families last year. The program also gave gifts to more than 125 seniors.
People must live in Otsego and Elk River to apply for Gifts Anonymous and are required to provide certain documentation. School social workers, the CAER food shelf and the county are helping find clients who need the assistance. People can apply online at www.giftsanonymous.org.
This year due to COVID-19 two options will be offered for people to pick up the gifts. They can shop at the distribution event or use curbside pick-up.
Where to drop off gifts
ABRA Auto Body, 11175 183rd Circle
American Legion, 525 Railroad Drive
Animal and Exotic Wellness Center, 19276 Evans St.
Broadway Bar and Pizza, 16754 Highway 10
Christine’s Hallmark, 19186 Freeport St.
Coborn’s, 19425 Evans St.
Cub, 19216 Freeport St.
First Bank, 812 Main St. and 19157 Freeport St.
First Step Preschool, 555 Railroad Drive
HealthSource Chiropractic of Elk River, 804 Freeport Ave., Suite C
Kemper Drug, 323 Jackson Ave.
Menards, 19521 Evans St.
Olde Main Eatery, 313 Jackson Ave.
P.S... Dance, 251 Eighth St.
Remax, 650 Dodge Ave. #2
St. Andrew’s Catholic Church, 566 Fourth St.
Sunshine Depot, 701 Main St.
The Bank of Elk River, 630 Main St. and 846 Freeport Ave.
Union Church, 1118 Fourth St.
Walmart, 18185 Zane St.
YMCA, 13337 Business Center Drive
City of Otsego - Prairie Center, 8899 Nashua Ave.
Coborn’s, 15700 88th St.
Denny’s, 9020 Quaday Ave.
Drake O’Neill’s Irish American Pub, 9125 Quaday Ave., No. 108
Edward Jones, 9175 Quaday Ave., Suite 109
Healing Hands Family Chiropractic, 9125 Quaday Ave., Suite 102
Holiday Inn and Waterpark, 9200 Quaday Ave.
Keller Williams Integrity, 16201 90th St., Suite 100
Pour Wine Bar and Bistro, 15704 90th St.
The Bank of Elk River, 15800 88th St.