A local Facebook group in La Crosse hosted its first ever Christmas event where more than 200 kids were sponsored with gifts.
The group, Everyone Needs A Helping Hand La Crosse Area, has gained over 2,000 members since its creation five years ago.
Families can write on the page what they are in need of or ask for advice, however, not all of the members need help.
“We have families on there, ‘Hey I’ve got a coat, I’ve got a blanket, I have this available, who needs a box of food this week?’ So, it’s a whole community effort,” said Delania Heller, founder of Everyone Needs A Helping Hand La Crosse.
This past Thanksgiving, the group gave 80 dinners to families in the community.
Since then, they have been working towards this Christmas event and helping more families.
“We have reached out in the community, our Facebook page, friends, families, relatives and say ‘Hey, can you take a family? Help them buy gifts for Christmas? And we are distributing 225 gifts to families,” Heller said.
An additional 84 families were given stockings to decorate and stocking stuffers to go inside.
One hundred families were also given breakfast bags filled with food for Christmas morning.
Sponsored kids are all getting at least one toy and one outfit, those families say it means a lot.
“It’s pretty amazing because we’re moving and times are a little tighter, so no one’s going to know that it was tighter,” said Erin Raymus, a sponsored family. “The kids are just going to have a great time.”
Around half of the kids sponsored for gifts are older than 12, which is the cut off age for other local organizations.
“Those families that are not eligible for the Angel Giving tree through Salvation Army, through New Horizons, through any of the other organizations in town. So, they have reached out to us and we were able to fulfill so many teenagers with items,” Heller said.
The Facebook group raised and received several donations from the community.
Everyone Needs A Helping Hand hopes to do the event again next year and sponsor even more kids.