Spreading Christmas cheer in Watertown

September 24, 2018

Dan Crisler Public Opinion Staff Writer

Watertown’s Mount Marty College and Shellia St. George are giving people an opportunity to spread Christmas cheer to the less fortunate over the next two months.

From now until Dec. 1, people who have a little cash on hand or a spare item or two, such as toys and clothes, can donate it to the Christmas Cheer campaign organized by St. George. Those items will be stored at Mount Marty College until they are given away on that Dec. 1 date.

It is the third year St. George has headed the campaign.

“Christmas Cheer is kind of a community project in getting everybody to work together,” St George said. “People generally have extra stuff laying around their house. They may not really think about all of the people that don’t have those things. This is just kind of a good way for the community to give back to each other.”

With the idea of the Christmas Cheer campaign coming to her in a dream, St. George has seen the campaign enhance the Christmas experience for 70 families in the first year and more than 120 in the second year. St. George hopes turnout will increase this year now that Christmas Cheer has more of a reputation. Several volunteers are on the ground.

“We work hard at this,” St. George said.

So far, it appears there is a good shot this year’s campaign will surpass last year’s. Mount Marty Director Dr. Cris Gordon noted that donated items have already taken up a notable amount of space in a Mount Marty storage room.

“I was surprised when I walked into the room I thought, ‘Oh, it’s growing,’” Gordon said.

St. George said the campaign accepts all manners of donations as long as the items are in good condition.

“Toys are our greatest need given that it’s Christmas and we go through them pretty fast,” St. George said. “We always have a lot of clothes but we always try to push for more toys for the kids. That’s not to say we won’t take donations for other things because adults need gifts as well.”

Gordon said the good intentions driving the Christmas Cheer campaign align with the college’s core mission, making the college only too happy to be the central point of the campaign.

“Christmas Cheer fits very well into the mission of Mount Marty College. Part of that mission emphasizes hospitality and community. Christmas Cheer speaks to the mission of our school,” she said.

St. George said donated baked goods will also be accepted closer to the Dec. 1 event at Mount Marty. The event, which will be held on a Saturday, will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. St. George said volunteers will be on hand that day to make any deliveries.

People can either drop off donations at Mount Marty located on the western edge of Watertown along U.S. Highway 212 or contact George on her cell phone 320-226-6966 to arrange for a Christmas Cheer volunteer to come pick up any donated item. Mount Marty will be open to accept donations Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Those interested in volunteering or have any questions can call George on her cell or the Mount Marty office at 605-886-6777.